The fourth cervical vertebra (C4) is centrally located in the cervical region of the spinal column. This is right above the thoracic vertebrae. Collectively, the cervical vertebrae not only provide protection to the nerves in the spinal column, but they must also support the skull and the components in the head. Together, the C4 and C5 vertebrae are also located in close proximity to the thyroid cartilage. Similar to other cervical vertebra, C4 is uniquely shaped when compared to most other bones in the entire body. The vertebra is made up of a body and a transverse process. The pedicle and lamian have left and right designations, and collectively, they form the bone that surrounds the spinal cord. The left and right lamian meet in the spinous process. The fourth cervical vertebra (C4) may be damaged for a number of reasons. If it fails to protect the spinal column, complete or total paralysis may result. Spinal damage can be common up to the second cervical vertebra.
Written and medically reviewed by the Healthline Editorial Team
In Depth: C4