Neck injuries can be serious and debilitating. The C5/C6 region of the spine is at particular risk after certain types of accidents.
If you have been in a car or workplace accident, it is important to understand and recognize C5/C6 disc herniation symptoms.
What Is the Cervical Spine?
Your spine consists of a series of interlocking bones called vertebrae. The vertebrae within your neck are called the cervical spine and are numbered C1 through C7.
In between each vertebra are structures called discs. These discs consist of a fibrous outer layer (annulus) and a spongy gel-like material (nucleus).
Discs are responsible for cushioning the vertebrae from impacts and shock. Without discs, the vertebra would smash into each other, compromising the spine and the spinal cord.
How Does a Cervical Disc Become Herniated?
Cervical disc herniation occurs when the outer layer of the disc tears and the gel-like substance within the disc begins to leak out.
When this happens, the leaking nucleus may cause inflammation to nearby nerves or to the spinal cord itself. Cervical disc herniations are often referred to as “slipped” or “ruptured” discs.
Although age can cause discs to wear down and rupture, discs may also become herniated due to reasons such as:
- Car, truck, and motorcycle accidents;
- Impacts to the neck or back;
- Strenuous physical activity; and
- Workplace injuries.
One of the most common areas for cervical disc herniation is the C5/C6 region. This area is found at the base of the neck, and it can be susceptible to damage from car accidents and other sudden trauma.
What Are the Symptoms of a C5/C6 Disc Herniation?
C5/C6 disc herniation symptoms can vary from relatively mild to debilitating. While tenderness and pain near the base of the neck are common, there are other signs which may indicate cervical disc herniation.
Some of the other symptoms associated with C5/C6 disc herniation include:
- Pain radiating to the shoulders or arms;
- Numbness in the hands, arms, or shoulders; and
- Weakness in the arms or hands.
More severe cervical disc herniations can cause damage or inflammation of nearby nerves or even the spinal cord.
In more severe cases, C5/C6 disc herniation symptoms may include:
- Loss of fine-motor skills,
- Difficulty balancing or walking, and
- A shock-like or electrical sensation.
C5/C6 disc herniation symptoms can vary in intensity depending on your activity level. Certain activities such as playing sports or engaging in physical labor can make symptoms worse or cause further damage to the disc.
How Are Cervical Disc Herniations Treated?
When a patient comes to a physician with the above symptoms, the physician will often want to examine the neck and order imaging studies. The imaging studies may include X-rays, a CT scan, or an MRI.
If you suffer a herniated disc in the neck, treatment may include:
- Over-the-counter or prescription pain medication,
- Steroid or nerve-block injections, and
- Physical therapy.
More severe cervical disc herniations, such as those which threaten the spinal cord, may require surgery. This is often the last resort for physicians, as cervical surgery could lead to further pain and mobility issues for the patient.
Do You Think You Injured Your Cervical Disc in an Accident?
Cervical disc injuries can lead to lifelong pain and mobility issues. If you believe you may have symptoms of C5/C6 disc herniation or another injury relating to an accident, we at the Zimmerman Law Firm want to help.
With over 85 years of experience, our attorneys understand the uncertainty that comes with accident-related injuries.
Using our deep experience and knowledge, we can guide you through the often complicated process of pursuing a personal injury claim.
Contact us for your free case consultation today!