The C6 vertebra is the sixth vertebra in the cervical spine, which is located in the neck region of the spinal column. It is also known as the sixth cervical vertebra. Like other cervical vertebrae, C6 has a small body, which supports the weight of the head, and a large vertebral foramen that encloses and protects the spinal cord.
The C6 vertebra is important because it gives rise to the first set of nerves that innervate the muscles of the upper extremities. The nerves that exit the spinal cord at this level are called the C6 spinal nerves. These nerves travel down the arm and supply the biceps muscle, the wrist extensors, and the muscles that allow the fingers to extend.
Injuries or abnormalities to the C6 vertebra or the spinal cord at this level can cause a range of symptoms, including pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling in the upper extremities. For example, a herniated disc or spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal) at the C6 level can compress the spinal cord or spinal nerves, leading to these symptoms. Treatment options may include conservative measures like physical therapy or more invasive procedures like surgery, depending on the underlying cause and severity of the condition.
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