Diagnosis and Treatment of a C6-C7 Slip Disc (Slipped Disc at C6-C7)
A C6-C7 slip disc is the second most common site for a slipped disc(slip disc) in the neck. The C6-C7 slip disc affects the C7 nerve roots. The C7 nerve root can be impinged by disc material or bony osteophytes from degenerative changes. Signs and symptoms of C7 nerve root impingement may include neck pain, upper back pain, pain and paresthesia in the middle finger, weakness in triceps and wrist flexors. There may be a diminished or absence of deep tendon reflex at the triceps.
There are C6-C7 slip disc cases in which a patient may not have any pain, and the only noticeable symptom is numbness in the finger tips. Also, there are patients that complain of weakness in the shoulder or arm strength. Therefore, cervical radiculopathy should not be excluded in the diagnosis even though there is no pain in the neck or arm. Sensory deficits and muscle weakness are of a possible nerve damage. And as such, a thorough assessment of the neck, as well as spinal discs, muscles, and ligaments, are essential to identify the root-cause.
A slipped disc in any spinal segment is dangerous, but a slipped disc at C6-C7 or the C5-C6 will impact daily activities at a greater level. Therefore, it is important to understand the root-cause of slip disc. To date, the most common cause of a slipped disc (slip disc) is the degenerative changes that occur within a spinal disc. These degenerative changes are the leading reasons why one gets a slipped disc.
Degenerative Changes at C6-C7 is the Leading Cause of a Slip Disc at C6-C7
Degenerative changes in the cervical spine can further increase the nerve root impingement. Early degenerative changes can occur when there is preceding trauma or when there is repetitive minor trauma to the spine over a prolonged period. Any physical trauma or accident that impacted on the head or neck can cause early degenerative changes in the cervical spine. Repetitive minor trauma such as poor posture during prolonged desk work, occupational hazards that require the person to maintain a flexed head and neck posture or incorrect posture during certain physical activities are the leading cause of micro-traumatic events.
Degenerative process of the cervical spine or cervical spondylosis can lead to a decreased disc height and further compromise the neural foramina where the nerve roots exit the spinal canal. There will be additional stress being exerted on the facet joints of the spine and the vertebral body as a result of reduced disc height throughout the neck.
What are the most Susceptible Spinal Discs in the Neck?
The C5-C6 and the C6-C7 are the most susceptible to degenerative changes as these are the most weight bearing spinal segments in the neck. Degenerative changes in a spinal disc are the leading cause of a slipped disc. And when it comes to a C6-C7 spinal disc, these changes can result in tears and eventual slippage of the C6-C7 or the C5-C6 spinal discs.
As mentioned earlier, the most common cause for degenerative changes in the C5-C6 or the C6-C7 spinal segments is improper weight bearing activities. Prolonged or increased load on the facet joints at the C5-C6 or the C6-C7 segments of the neck will result in bony hypertrophy or arthritis. This will cause narrowing of the neural foraminal and can increase the chance of getting cervical radiculopathy. Therefore, a combination of marginal osteophytes from the vertebral body, facet joints hypertrophy and a C6/C7 slip disc can cause a substantial amount of irritation and damage on the exiting C7 nerve roots. Therefore, accurate diagnosis and proper treatments are essential to a non-surgical recovery.
Treatment for a C6-C7 Slip Disc
The C5-C6 and C6-C7 slip disc can be effectively treated through non-surgical means. In fact, in our centers, we have significantly improved pain and joint stability of patients that suffered from a C6-C7 slip disc. Our methods of care are through the best integrative means of chiropractic and physiotherapy. Best of all, the procedures you get in our centers are backed by specialized medical devices that treat a slipped disc in a manner that was not possible a few years ago. So, f you suffer from a slipped disc at C6-C7 or any other spinal segment, visit us. Our methods and systems of care are better. Let our clinical teams help your recovery from a C6-C7 slip disc today.
Hammer C, Heller J, Kepler C. Epidemiology and pathophysiology of cervical disc herniation. Seminars in Spine Surgery. 2016;28(2):64-67. doi: 10.1053/j.semss.2015.11.009