A herniated disc in the cervical spine is a common cause of pain and lack of impairment. Cervical herniation affects approximately 2% of the population and is most common in men between the ages of 30 to 50. In many cases, cervical herniation is the result of a specific incident or injury and may be work-related, which means workers’ compensation could become involved.
Here we’ll discuss C5 and C6 disc herniation symptoms, treatments, and how an experienced legal team can help you recover. Before we get to that, though, we first need to understand the inner workings of the spine itself.
How Does the Spine Work?
The spine is a hollow, flexible tube of bone that connects the base of the skull to the top of the pelvis. The spine is made of 33 individual bones, called vertebrae, with a unique shape and function in the body. The hollow center of each vertebra creates a tunnel that protects the spinal cord — a long bundle of nerves that connects the brain with the rest of the body.
Each vertebra is stacked on top of the other, with a cushion of gel-like cartilage between them, called a “disc.” This cushioning between each vertebra helps to keep the spinal column closed, protecting the nerves, while still allowing the vertebrae to move and flex during daily activities. This combination of features gives the spine several critical functions in the body:
- Protects the spinal cord, ensuring neural connections between the brain and the body
- Supports the upper body, with each vertebrae helping to carry the weight of the upper body and hold us upright
- Allows unencumbered movement, as the padding between vertebrae stretches and compresses to allow us to move, twist, and lift
The spine is made up of several distinct segments, with the cervical vertebrae in the neck, the thoracic vertebrae in the middle back, the lumbar vertebrae in the lower back, and the sacral vertebrae connecting to the hips. This creates a common way of referring to the specific bones in the spine. For example, “C4” is the fourth cervical vertebra, while “L1” is the first lumbar vertebra.
What is Disc Herniation?
A disc herniation in the spine is when the tough fibers that hold the spinal column together, or the soft gel-like discs, are weakened or injured, allowing some of the nerve tissues in the spinal cord to slip out of place and bulge into the space between the vertebrae. This bulging, or “herniation” can cause those nerve tissues to be pinched or compressed between the bones of the vertebrae.
These types of injury vary in severity, causes, and treatments, but can be incredibly painful as the nerves are compressed by the bones in the spine.
Common C5 and C6 Disk Herniation Symptoms
Cervical disc herniation causes neck pain, but it is usually characterized as a burning or stinging pain, unlike mechanical neck pain. Some of the most common symptoms of cervical spine disc herniation include:
- Pain in the neck, shoulders, or upper back
- Neck pain that travels to the shoulder, arm, or fingers
- Pain that increases when bending or turning the neck
- Weakness, numbness, or tingling in the arms
Severe cases may also include loss of balance and coordination, problems with fine motor skills, or a shock-like feeling that runs down the entire body. Depending on which disc has herniated, pain may be experienced differently, as different nerve roots are affected. More specifically:
- C5 and C6 disc herniation symptoms. C5 and C6 are the most common areas for disc herniation. Symptoms include weakness in the biceps and front of the upper arms, weakness in the wrist extensor muscles, and pain, numbness, and tingling that radiate to the thumb side of the hand.
- C4 and C5 disc herniation symptoms. C4 and C5 disc herniation causes weakness in the deltoids and upper arms, along with shoulder pain. This herniation does not usually cause numbness or tingling.
Causes of Spinal Disc Herniation and Injury
Naturally, most disc herniations are caused by age. Over time, the discs in our spine become less flexible and resilient, making them more prone to injury. This is why disc herniation is most common in our 30s, 40s, and 50s. However, unlike mechanical neck pain, most people with a herniated disc can trace their pain to a specific incident or occasion. Some of the most common causes of cervical disc herniation are:
- Sudden, jarring motions can cause disc herniation, but herniation can also be caused by repetitive motion and wear over time
- Many cervical disc herniations are caused during the lifting of heavy objects
- Accidents and injuries. Falls, car accidents, and other types of accidents can cause a herniated disc in the spine
If you suffered a disc herniation or other spinal injury on the job, you may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim.
Typical C5 and C6 Disc Herniation Treatment
The best C5 and C6 disc herniation treatment depends on the degree of injury, but most doctors will attempt to reduce the related inflammation that increases the severity of pain and symptoms. Common C6 herniated disc treatment methods include:
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Neck brace to stabilize the neck and promote healing
- Physical therapy to reduce pain and restore range of motion
- Exercise and self-care to help patients recover and protect the spine
In some cases, doctors may use injections to deliver medication directly to the affected area. In severe cases, with persistent pain and ongoing impairment to everyday functionality, surgery may be required to repair, remove, or replace the damaged disc.
How Can Aaron Allison Help?
In the state of Texas, there are time limits to apply for a workers’ compensation or personal injury case. If you are suffering from neck pain, the statute of limitations starts on the date of your injury, or from the date when you were made aware that your pain is the result of an injury. For example, if you have persistent neck pain, and a doctor tells you that you have a herniated disc as a result of repetitive strain from work, the statute of limitations begins from the date of this diagnosis — meaning you have a limited time in which to file your claim.
If your disc herniation or neck pain is a result of an accident or injury, you should contact a personal injury attorney right away. A qualified attorney will help you understand your rights, negotiate a settlement, or take your case all the way to court.
The law firm of Aaron Allison has been helping people recover damages from their injuries since 1978, and our family-run office offers expert guidance in personal injury and workers’ compensation cases. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your case.