We’re always so excited to share fascinating facts and titbits about the spine with you, and we’ve reached the end of our “Learn about Your Spine” series. We hope you’ve enjoyed it.
Today’s article is all about the 7th cervical vertebra which is one of the most important parts of the spine. Read on for more.

What is the C7 Cervical Vertebra?

Imagine you’re picking up the phone to take an important call when all of a sudden your arm starts to feel like jelly. This may be caused by your 7th cervical vertebra.

The 7th Cervical vertebra controls the triceps. The triceps is a large muscle situated at the back of your arm and it’s what most people go to strengthen at the gym on “arm day”. But, this muscle is good for more than just making your arms look good in a tank top.


C7 is easily identifiable because it protrudes through the skin. You’ll notice it if you feel around at the base of your neck. Due to its noticeable protrusion, this vertebra is often called vertebra prominens.
C7 starts where the neck meets the upper back, at the beginning of your spine’s curvature. It connects two very different parts of your spine, as the upper back is quite rigid, while the neck is highly flexible.

What Happens when the C7 cervical vertebra gets damaged?

The C7 spinal segment is the exit point of the C8 nerve root, so when the C8 nerve root gets compressed, a condition known as C8 radiculopathy will happen.

What are the symptoms of C8 radiculopathy?

– Numbness, weakness or pain on the lower shoulder
– Tingling sensation at the back of the arm and/or forearm
– Tingling sensation or pain on the pinky finger

shoulder pain
shoulder pain

These symptoms can manifest on both sides of your arm or on one side depending on the cause and severity of the problem.

It’s also possible to experience C7 spinal cord injury as a result of the following:
– Motor vehicle accident
– Falls
– Trauma
– Tumors
– Disease
– Birth defects

Some of the most common symptoms of a C7 spinal cord injury include:
– Losing control of bladder and bowel movement
– Difficulty breathing
– Difficulty extending the fingers, arms, and shoulders
– Reduced dexterity in the hands and fingers
– A burning and painful sensation at the back of the arms (triceps) and/ or in the shoulder blade

Causes of C7 damage

In addition to the above-mentioned symptoms and causes, C7 damage can manifest in the form of:

– A Degenerative C7-T1 Segment:
The pain you feel on your shoulders could be a result of a degenerative C7 and T1 vertebrae. This happens as a result of inflammation or irritation from the degenerating disk.

– Osteoarthritis:
It’s very rare for osteoarthritis to manifest in the C7 cervical vertebra. But, the natural disintegration of facet joints can lead to C7 osteoarthritis, also known as neck arthritis. A severe injury could make matters worse, so be sure to get this area checked out if you’re constantly feeling pain or stiffness in it.
Philani Natural Health offers a free assessment to anyone who books through our website appointment page. So, head on over there and get yourself checked out!

– Spinal stenosis:
What is spinal stenosis, you ask? To put it simply, this condition manifests as a narrowing of the spinal canal, which is basically your backbone which runs from the base of your neck to the lower back.

The spinal canal is supposed to protect your spinal cord from impact and injury. But, when it narrows down it actually pinches the spinal cord and this is never a good thing.

At this point, the condition becomes myelopathy and it could lead to permanent spinal cord injury. When this happens, you could lose all sensation below the neck or experience leg or core muscle paralysis.

– Fracture:
A bone fracture at this level can cause pain and discomfort.

– Infection:
Although uncommon, it’s possible to get an infection in the C7 spinal segment. This usually happens in the case of a secondary lung infection.

– Tumour:
This is another rarity, but we thought we’d cover it because spinal tumors are not to be taken lightly. Aside from the noticeable bulging, they often manifest as a painful sensation at the base of your neck that won’t go away.

– Herniation:
Another common cause of C7 damage is disc herniation. Although rare, disc herniation can happen on the C7 cervical vertebra as a result of a muscle tear in this area. This causes a jelly-like substance to “leak” out from the disc. 

This is not a pretty picture folks, and you want to avoid this at all costs by following some of the maintenance and treatment tips we’ll be sharing with you below.

C7 Treatment

The good news is you don’t have to undergo invasive surgery to treat most of the conditions related to the C7 cervical vertebra. The general recommendation is to stick with nonsurgical treatment consistently for 3 to 6 months before you seek more severe methods.

This is enough time to figure out if methods like manual therapy will work for you. If you still don’t feel relief after 6 months, then you’ll have to book yourself in for a proper surgical procedure to get rid of the problem.

Keep in mind that surgery at the C7/ T1 level is more difficult because it’s situated deeper in the body and it’s protected by a lot of bone tissue. Not only that, but it’s close to neurovascular bundles, which is a critical and sensitive part of the spine.

Above all, physical therapy comes highly recommended for the treatment of spinal cord injury. The goal of such treatment is to help the patient restore lost function in the affected area and live life as normal again.

Make sure to also keep a positive attitude as you go through treatment. So long as treatment starts early, it’s possible to regain function in the affected area and get your life back!

Good news! You can get a FREE assessment from Philani Manual Health when you book online. Click on our appointment page and get started today.