Your Neck, Your Health and You: the C1 through C7 Vertebrae

We talk a lot on here about the relationship between your back and your overall health and well-being. Your spine is the epicenter of your immune system and really, your entire body. It’s the medium through which every single communicative signal passes to and from your brain. It’s the way your brain talks to everything from your fingers and toes to your heart and lungs to your pituitary gland and hormone production.

This means that when your spine is out of alignment it can create a whole host of health problems. A misaligned spine can be responsible for everything from chronic headaches to depression, to your risk of developing illnesses from the common cold to cancer. Your spine is also a long chain of bones in your back, with those in the neck often being the most commonly misaligned, and the most prone to cause problems.

The first seven bones in your neck, the C1 through C7 vertebrae, each have a specific function, and can cause very specific problems when they’re out of alignment. Let’s take a look at the problems you can face from dealing with each of these bones, and how chiropractic and neck care can make all the difference in the world.

Cervical C1 Vertebrae

The C1 vertebrae is the first cervical vertebrae in your entire spine, located at the top of your neck and base of your skull. It’s the bone that supports your head, and is held in place by muscles and ligaments, but is the only vertebrae that doesn’t have a disc. This bone is the Holy Grail of all your vertebrae, and misalignment at this joint can cause issues for your entire body.

This occurs because when it becomes injured or experiences an atlas subluxation, the C1 vertebrae can place stress on your brain stem as well as your spinal cord. That makes this sort of a master switch for your nervous system. Because of this, issues with this stem can create issues ranging from headaches and migraines to high blood pressure, insomnia, and a host of other issues. Even the common cold has been traced to an atlas subluxation.

A misaligned C1 vertebra can create any number of issues, including affecting the following body systems:

  1.      Pituitary hormones
  2.      Brain function
  3.      Facial bones
  4.      Ear (inner and middle)
  5.      Mental health (nervousness and depression)
  6.      Balance

Cervical C2 Vertebrae

The C2 vertebrae is also called the Axis, and it’s the second one down in your neck. It’s a hinge that helps your C1 pivot and allows you to turn your head left and right. When your C2 vertebra becomes subluxated, it can result in pain and difficulty rotating your head, as well as creating specific health problems that affect your eyesight, hearing, sinuses, head and even your tongue. People who experience symptoms like chronic sinusitis, and pain around the eyes, earaches, dizziness and fainting, loss of hearing or similar issues could be suffering from a misalignment in the axis vertebra.

Cervical C3 Vertebrae

Nerve pain is the most common indicator of issues with your cervical C3 vertebra. This third bone down in your neck is at about the same level as your lower jaw. It’s related to your outer ear, cheeks, teeth, the bones in your face, and the main sensory nerve in your face, also called the fifth cranial nerve.

People who experience a subluxation in their cervical C3 vertebrae can experience nerve pain known as neuralgia, or inflammation of the nerves known as neuritis.

Cervical C4 Vertebrae

The fourth bone down in your neck, the cervical C4 vertebrae is responsible for some potentially shocking ailments when it’s out of alignment. Sitting roughly where the Adam’s apple is, it has a direct influence on our ears, nose and mouth. The nerves under this vertebra are what allow us to breathe, and allows motor function in your shoulders, arms, collarbone and similar regions. Any numbness or pain in these areas including biceps and collarbone could be due to a subluxation in this bone.

In some cases, people suffering from symptoms of COPD or asthma find that it’s due to a C4 misalignment. Adjusting this bone can even help to stop hiccups!

Cervical C5 Vertebrae

Your C5 vertebrae is critical to the health and function of your diaphragm. Injuries at this level can harm your ability to breathe, as well as affecting systems like your pharynx, vocal cords and neck glands. Those with misalignments can experience issues ranging from sore throat to laryngitis to certain skin problems.

The nerves in your C5 affect your dermatomes, areas of skin that indicate nerve root pathways, allowing for bicep, elbow and shoulder movement. Any tingling, difficulty with motion or numbness in these regions could indicate a C5 subluxation.

Cervical C6 Vertebrae

The sixth down from your head, and the second-to-last in your neck, the cervical C6 vertebrae is associated with issues like carpal tunnel syndrome, tonsillitis, stiff neck, and even chronic coughing. People who experience symptoms like these can often find relief from a C6 vertebra adjustment.

Cervical C7 Vertebrae

The vertebra located at the base of your neck, the cervical C7 vertebrae is also called the first thoracic vertebrae. It’s the one that feels like it sticks out when you run your hand down the back of your neck. It’s directly associated, when out of alignment, with issues like shoulder and elbow bursitis. This condition indicates the swelling and irritation of a bursa, the cushion that lies between your tendons, muscles and joints. The symptoms can be similar to those of tendonitis, and an X-ray can sometimes help to detect these issues, though in some cases an MRI is indicated.

Other conditions that are related to C7 misalignment include thyroid issues. The thyroid is the gland that helps to regulate growth, body temperature and even brain chemistry. By repairing a C7 subluxation, a chiropractor can help to get your body functioning the way it’s designed to once more, and may help to clear up a range of similar issues.

Chiropractic and Neck Care

As you can see, chiropractic and neck care are intrinsically linked. The bones in your neck are directly associated with a range of vital body functions, and the right chiropractor can help to address any subluxations or misalignments that may exist in your C1 through C7 vertebrae and beyond, helping to get your body communicating more efficiently and getting you healthy once again.

Chiropractic is an all-natural, non-invasive and drug-free approach to health and wellness. It focuses on the whole body, and goes far beyond simple spinal adjustments. If you’d like more information about how a chiropractor might be able to help you when you experience symptoms like those above in the Woodbridge, VA, area, contact ACT Wellness for help and more information today!

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