The C5-C6 vertebrae are located in the lower portion of the cervical spine (upper back and neck). The role of the intervertebral discs is to provide cushioning between the individual vertebra of the spine, to help evenly distribute force throughout the spine, and to facilitate spinal flexibility. When the C5-C6 disc is compromised, so too is the natural and healthy cervical curvature.
The spine is made up of three natural and healthy curves. When looking at it from the side, the spine takes a soft ‘S’ shape. When one of those curves is lost, adverse spinal tension is introduced, causing numerous problems. Let’s first start exploring C5-C6 disc bulging by looking at the curves that make up a healthy spine and what happens when they are lost.
Have you ever stopped to consider why the human spine is curved in the first place? You might not have thought about it, but it’s a good question to ask.
The spine has three healthy curves, and these curves work together to make the spine as strong and flexible as possible.
Starting from the top down, the spine’s upper back comprises the cervical curve with a soft inward curve at the neck. The middle back has an outward curve known as the thoracic curve, and the spine of the lower back has an inward lumbar curve.
Thinking of the spine as a continual fluctuating curve, you can see how if one of these curves are compromised, it would have an effect throughout the entire spine.
When the spine’s healthy curves are lost, the body responds by putting in bad curves. If the C5-C6 disc of the cervical spine is bulging, the neck’s natural curve is compromised and introduces adverse spinal tension and pressure on the nerve roots located next to the spine.
Those suffering from bulging discs can experience the condition differently, but there are some common symptoms to look out for that can help lead to diagnosis and treatment.
Often referred to as the ‘stress vertebrae’, the C5 and C6 spinal segments have a big job: they support the majority of the weight from both the neck and the head.
As you can imagine, especially in this digital age of staring down at computers and phones for long periods of time, this is an area of the spine commonly facing the effects of poor posture.
Referred to as ‘forward head posture’, the tendency to always look down and lean the head forward unnaturally places an abnormal amount of stress on the upper vertebrae and their intervertebral discs; this is known to lead to C5-C6 disc-bulging problems.
As the curve of the neck becomes straighter due to forward head posture, there is an immediate change to the nerves surrounding the spine. The compression of nerve roots in the neck impacts the neck, arms, hands and shoulders with radiating pain.
Often, tingling and numbness in these areas are another common symptom of C5-C6 disc bulging. This can lead to muscle weakness and spasms and additional discomfort in the digits of the hands.
If you are experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, a visit to the doctor is warranted. The sooner you get a diagnosis, the sooner you can start active treatment and get some relief.
Most often, a trip to see your doctor and discuss your experienced C5-C6 disc bulging symptoms would result in a physical exam, imaging tests, and neurological testing.
Diagnostic image testing such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and/or a computed tomography scan (CT) will show a bulging disc, where it is located, and how severe it is.
From there, you can be referred to a specialist who will work with you to choose your course of treatment.
With any medical condition, there are two treatment paths: one is to address and treat symptoms of the condition, and the other is to address and treat the condition’s underlying cause. I’m sure you can guess which approach I’m in favor of.
Someone seeking traditional medical treatment for their C5-C6 disc bulging is often looking to remedy the pain and discomfort disrupting their daily life. This treatment will likely involve being prescribed medication such as steroids for inflammation, injections, physical therapy, disc surgery, or spinal-fusion surgery.
These treatment forms do little to address the condition’s underlying cause, often offer only short-term pain relief, and are invasive. While it’s natural to want to alleviate pain as quickly as possible, often medication with heavy side effects and invasive surgeries are the response to that.
For example, in spinal-fusion surgery, compromised intervertebral discs are removed and the vertebrae are fused together to form one solid bone. Rods and screws are used to hold the bones in place while they heal in a straighter alignment; this, however, comes at the cost of flexibility, not to mention a whole host of other potential risks and complications.
Here at the Scoliosis Reduction Center, we opt for a different treatment approach, one that addresses the underlying structural cause of the condition. Whether your bulging disc is caused by scoliosis, or another cause, our approach has proven results that carry few, if any, side effects, and is effective and sustainable.
Here at the Center, we believe in an integrative approach to treating scoliosis and related issues, such as bulging discs. In this scenario, we would address the underlying cause of the bulging disc, the scoliosis, treat it accordingly, and watch related issues and symptoms lessen as the scoliosis is addressed.
As scoliosis causes a loss of the spine’s healthy curves, first and foremost, we want to address this structural issue on our treatment path. Next, we want to work towards stabilizing and supporting the spine so it can maintain its corrective position.
Through a combination of scoliosis-specific chiropractic, therapy, rehabilitation, and corrective bracing, we can adjust the spinal misalignment to improve the spine’s overall biomechanics as much as possible.
When a spine is in a natural and healthy straight alignment, the intervertebral discs can carry and distribute weight evenly. When a spine faces an unnatural curve, such as those caused by scoliosis or chronic bad posture, the intervertebral discs are the victims of disproportionate pressure, causing them to bulge out the sides.
By addressing the abnormal curvature placing uneven pressure on the intervertebral discs, we are addressing and treating the underlying cause, rather than simply prescribing medication or injections to temporarily relieve related inflammation and pain.
To us, surgery and medication is always a last result. We are proud to offer our patients an alternative treatment path that doesn’t carry heavy risks or side effects: one that offers impressive results, addresses the condition’s underlying cause, and gives our patients the best possible quality of life.
The spine is an important aspect of health and wellness. Anyone who has experienced back pain or related mobility issues can attest to that.
Here at the Scoliosis Reduction Center, we believe in treating the whole patient, and this means addressing the underlying cause of their condition, and not just opting for a quick fix with short-term results.
When it comes to C5-C6 disc bulging, this can be a painful complication of scoliosis, and our alternative conservative treatment approach addresses the adverse spinal tension contributing to the condition and treats it accordingly.
If you or a loved one is experiencing pain or discomfort related to C5-C6 disc bulging, I highly recommend seeking treatment from a chiropractor trained in multiple modalities related to disorders and deformities of the spine.
Choosing your treatment path can have a big impact on your condition and quality of life, and while I’m obviously biased to our approach here at the Center, I encourage patients to thoroughly research all the treatment options available to them so they can make an informed decision.