Deuk Spine Full Logo
Free MRI Review

C6-C7 Disc Herniation: Treatment, Causes, & Surgery

The C6-C7 disc is the 6th cervical disc near the lower part of the neck, near the top of the shoulders. When a C6-C7 herniated disc occurs and the C6-C7 nerve root is irritated, the symptoms usually include neck pain and pain in the arms, weakness in the hands and weakness in the arms, shoulder pain, chest pains, uncontrollable sweating, headaches, and possibly more. Many times, this condition can be misdiagnosed.

As with any other herniated disc, a C6-C7 herniation is very painful and uncomfortable. The nerve root that is affected by the C6-C7 disc herniation controls the arms, the shoulders, the heart, the lungs, and more. The pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in the shoulders, arms, and even hands and fingers could all point to this condition.

What is C6-C7 Disc Herniation? 

A C6-C7 disc herniation involves the displacement or rupture of the intervertebral disc situated between the sixth and seventh cervical vertebrae at the lower part of the neck. This region is integral to the neck’s structure, offering critical support and protection to the spinal cord while facilitating movement. 

The C6 and C7 vertebrae, characterized by their vertebral bodies, arches, transverse processes, facet joints, and a distinctive larger spinous process in C7 known as the Vertebra Prominens, play a pivotal role in the neck’s functionality. In rare instances, these vertebrae may also present an additional cervical rib. Due to their crucial positioning and function, these vertebrae are particularly prone to herniation.

Herniation in the C6-C7 disc occurs when there is damage to the disc, leading to a breach in its outer layer, the annulus fibrosus, allowing the inner gel-like nucleus pulposus to protrude or leak out. 

This condition not only causes the disc to bulge but also can compress nearby nerve roots, resulting in cervical radiculopathy

What is a Cervical Herniated Disc? 

The cervical spine, part of the spinal column, comprises 6 cervical intervertebral discs out of 23: 6 cervical, 12 thoracic, and 5 lumbar. These discs are soft tissue joints consisting of a hydraulic gelatinous core known as the nucleus pulposus, enclosed within a firm outer collagen layer referred to as the annulus fibrosus. 

The discs shield the spinal vertebrae and nerves from sudden impacts. They also mitigate shock from spinal movements such as bending, twisting, and jumping. However, the disc’s external wall, the annulus fibrosus, may develop traumatic tears (annular tear), causing the jelly-like nucleus pulposus to protrude backward out of the tear into the spinal canal or neural foramen.

The segment of the jelly nucleus pulposus that extrudes through the tear is termed the herniation. Often, this herniation can press against a nerve, leading to inflammation and irritation of the nerve involved.

Disc herniation results from multiple factors that can impact the joints individually or as a combination. The most common of these factors is spinal wear and tear. As individuals age, the cartilage joining the discs in the spine to the adjacent vertebrae can become slack and lose its elasticity. 

Additionally, herniated discs may result from sudden impacts and trauma from accidents or falls.

What Are The C6 And C7?

The neck is made up of seven cervical vertebrae which protect the spinal cord. The C6 and C7 are two of these cervical components. They share many structural similarities to the other cervical vertebrae, including the vertebral body and arch, as well as two transverse processes, two facet joints, and one spinous process. 

Additionally, C7 has a Vertebra Prominens, which is a larger version of the spinous process, and in some extraordinary cases, the vertebrae also feature an extra cervical rib.

Due to the position of the C6 and C7 vertebrae close to the base of the neck, they both serve a vital load-bearing and support function. They are also the most susceptible to becoming herniated.

A herniated disc can refer to any of the discs in the spine that have become damaged and have developed a tear in the wall (annulus fibrosus) of the disc allowing the jelly substance inside to squeeze out of the tear. This can also cause the disc to bulge and pinch a nerve, thus leading to Cervical radiculopathy. The most common cause of a herniated disc is from excessive bending, lifting, or trauma. Common symptoms of a herniated disc are neck pain, headaches, arm tingling, pain, or numbness.

The C6-C7 Nerve Root

The C6-C7 nerve root extends to the upper extremity via an intervertebral foramen that exists between the C6 and C7 vertebrae. This nerve root controls both muscle and skin in the arm via its sensory and motor roots. Some basic actions like stretching the fingers, contracting the triceps, and moving the elbow and wrists are controlled by the C7 motor roots. The sensory roots send sensations to specific areas that cover the shoulders, arms, and fingers. 

Herniation occurs in the intervertebral disc when the annulus fibrosus is damaged. Without its usual protective covering, the nucleus pulposus leaks into the spinal canal. This leakage is what forms the hernia and can cause severe neck pain. When the hernia comes into contact with the C7 nerve, it can lead to pinching and inflammation. 

Suffering from chronic pain? 

Other C6-C7 Disc Herniation Facts

The C6-C7 disc is one of 23 discs in the spine. The function of each disc is to provide support to the spine and absorb any unexpected impact between the vertebrae.

The C6-C7 disc is formed at the joint between the C6 and C7 cervical vertebrae. The disc itself is a tissue that is composed of a soft gelatinous center called the nucleus pulposus. This core is what allows the spine to extend and maintain strength. It is enclosed within a firm but elastic outer casing known as the annulus fibrosus. The final part of the disc is the cartilaginous endplates between the disc and the next vertebrae.

The annular tear is the actual source of neck pain and inflammation in the posterior annular tear is the actual anatomical source. 

Without inflammation, there is no neck pain. The painful annular tear at the back of a herniated C6-C7 disc can be repaired with a minimally invasive endoscopic procedure called the Deuk Laser Disc Repair

The Basics Of C6-C7 Herniated Discs: Causes & Symptoms

The C6 and C7 are two vital skeletal components that play a huge role in healthy living. They form part of a core system that supports the spinal system, keeping the body firm and strong. It is important to know how to keep these major body players in good shape and correct any potential conditions such as C6-C7 disc herniation.

C6-C7 Disc Herniation Causes

Cervical herniation can often develop as a result of some trauma or injury to the cervical spine. Herniated discs are not a very common occurrence, and they only become more prevalent with age. Annual reports of herniated disc conditions are generally less than 2%, most commonly among young adults to middle-aged individuals. 

Cervical discs support neck motion and protect the vertebrae from shock. Therefore as time passes, natural wear and tear start to occur. The cartilaginous ligaments connecting the disc to the vertebrae might become less flexible, causing it to tear at the slightest hint of force. Cervical herniated discs are most commonly caused by trauma or injury to the cervical spine.

C6-C7 Herniated Disc Symptoms

Any damage to the C6-C7 disc is most likely to extend to the C7 nerve root, causing it to inflame. The inflammation of this nerve root can lead to many signs of discomfort, which are often the symptoms of a herniated cervical disc, especially the C6-C7 disc. 

The C7 dermatome is one of the common regions to observe signs and symptoms of a herniated C6-C7 disc. This includes feeling a lack of sensation in the palm, index, and middle finger. This condition is termed Cervical radiculopathy and is often accompanied by the experience of radicular pain in this area, where it appears that a hot sensation is spreading from the base of the neck outwards towards the shoulders and fingers.

The herniation of the C6-C7 disc is also likely to affect the C7 myotome, which is the area of skin controlled by the C7 nerve root. This often leads to a weakness in the triceps and general upper arm. The patient might also experience difficulty moving the elbow, wrists, and certain fingers. 

C6-C7 Herniated Disc Treatment & Recovery Time

Once a patient is diagnosed with a herniated C6-C7 disc, multiple options are available for treatment and recovery. 

C6-C7 Non-Surgical Treatments

Non-surgical treatments for C6-C7 disc herniation typically focus on relieving pain, reducing inflammation, and improving neck mobility. These treatments may include:

  1. Physical Therapy: Tailored exercises can strengthen neck muscles, improve posture, and increase flexibility, which might help alleviate symptoms.
  2. Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can reduce inflammation and pain. In some cases, muscle relaxants or oral steroids might be prescribed to decrease muscle spasms and swelling.
  3. Activity Modification: Avoiding activities that exacerbate symptoms, such as heavy lifting or repetitive neck movements, can help prevent further injury and pain.
  4. Heat/Ice Therapy: Applying heat or ice to the affected area can relieve muscle tension and reduce pain.
  5. Cervical Collar: In some cases, wearing a cervical collar for a short period might help support the neck and relieve pain by limiting movement.

C6-C7 Disc Herniation Surgery

The procedure used to treat herniated discs is known as spine surgery and traditionally included microdiscectomy, artificial discs, and spine fusions until newer, more advanced techniques were developed, such as Deuk laser disc repair, to speed up recovery and operation time and enhance pain relief effectiveness. 

The most advanced surgery for a herniated disc is the Deuk Laser Disc Repair. To begin, Deuk Laser Disc Repair requires a very small incision, less than a quarter inch long. A cylindrical tool called a dilator is inserted through the small opening to gently separate the muscles to create a tiny passage and guide through which the surgery is performed endoscopically. 

The tip of the dilator is advanced into the symptomatic disc through the tear in the annulus where the herniation originates, and a tube known as the retractor slides over the dilator and is precisely positioned into the painful disc. The entirety of the Deuk Laser Disc Repair surgery occurs inside this narrow tube.

To access the spine, an endoscopic camera is inserted into the tubular retractor to allow the surgeon to navigate the laser inside each symptomatic disc. This technique ensures that bones and surrounding tissues are not harmed, unlike traditional spinal fusions, microdiscectomy, and artificial discs.

The Holmium YAG laser used in the Deuk laser disc repair is accurately manipulated with millimeter precision under endoscopic visualization to remove only the painful, inflamed tissue from the disc. The laser precisely targets and removes damaged disc material that is causing the pain. 

After the laser has removed the inflamed painful part of the annular tear and the herniated nucleus pulposus, the endoscope and tubular retractor are removed, leaving less than one-quarter inch incision in the skin, which can be closed with a single stitch and a band-aid. The total time for the Deuk laser disc repair surgery is one hour, and the patient is in recovery for about 45 to 60 minutes before being discharged to go home. 

Hospitalization is not required, and the risks associated with hospital-based surgery are avoided. Additionally, with the Deuk laser disc repair, there’s no loss of normal movement, and the flexibility of the disc and joint is preserved.

 With endoscopic Deuk laser disc repair, there is no fusion, metal implants, or biological material added to the spine. The procedure is entirely natural, allowing your body to heal the herniated or bulging disc by itself.

Get a Free MRI Review to start the process of getting rid of your chronic pain.

C6-C7 Disc Herniation Recovery Time

These will generally require a recovery period before patients can fully head back into their daily activities. This recovery period can vary depending on the time of diagnosis and the severity of the condition. 

For patients who are diagnosed and treated early, a faster recovery rate is often possible. With procedures like Deuk laser disc repair, the total time for the surgery is one hour, and the patient is in recovery for about 45 to 60 minutes before being released to go home. Hospitalization is not needed and the risks of hospital-based surgery are avoided.  

The general rule is that recovering patients should avoid strenuous physical activity for at least four weeks following the completion of their procedure. These activities include all actions that involve bending and lifting, as well as extended sitting periods. Rehabilitative and massage therapy are also strongly recommended to accelerate healing and mobility.

C6-C7 Pinched Nerve Exercises

Physical therapy exercises can lessen the effects of a pinched C6-C7 nerve. These exercises vary in intensity and can be performed by anyone, regardless of past fitness history or experience. Low-impact exercises are particularly recommended as they involve minimal pain and discomfort while focusing on engaging specific muscles.

Some of the more basic exercises include walking, neck tilts, rolls, and side bends. It is also advisable to involve the shoulder to relieve tightness in the neck and upper body muscles. 

Likewise, more agile patients can engage in physical exercise forms that involve the conscious positioning and movement of the body to engage the muscle and skeletal structure. Many Yoga poses would be beneficial in this regard.


Other Cervical Herniated Discs Symptoms 

Understanding the symptoms of a cervical herniated disc is fundamental for early detection and effective management. This section explores the key indicators that suggest the presence of a herniated disc within the cervical spine.

C4-C5 Disc Herniation

The C4 and C5 vertebrae belong to the C2-C5 motion segment within the neck. This region, known as the cervical spine, comprises seven vertebrae, labeled C1 to C7, with the C2-C5 segment located in the mid-neck area. 

Within this segment, C4 and C5 are notably mobile, though not as much as the segments lower down, specifically the C5-C8 segment. A herniated or bulging disc at the C4-C5 level can impact the nerves responsible for arm and hand function. 

Symptoms of a C4-C5 herniated disc can differ among individuals but often include arm pain and sensations of tingling, numbness, or a burning feeling that extends to the fingertips.

C5-C6 Disc Herniation

The C5 and C6 vertebrae in the spine are commonly referred to as the “stress vertebrae” because they bear the majority of the weight from the neck and head. Each vertebra consists of a vertebral body, a vertebral arch, and two transverse processes. A herniated disc at the C5-C6 level can lead to weaknesses in the biceps and wrist extensor muscles, alongside numbness, tingling, and pain that extends to the thumb and fingertips. It’s noteworthy that the C5-C6 level is one of the most prevalent sites for cervical disc herniation.

Herniation at this level can affect the nerves responsible for controlling the muscles in the arms, neck, shoulders, hands, and even the head, eyes, ears, or thyroid gland. The most common symptom of a C5-C6 disc herniation is lower neck pain, which may present as either sharp, sporadic pinches or a continuous, dull ache at the back of the neck. 

This pain can restrict neck movements, making them painful and thus limiting the patient’s range of motion. Patients may also report crepitus in the neck, which involves grinding and cracking sounds when moving the neck joints. Headaches, commonly linked to cervical disc herniations, are described as “cervicogenic” because they originate from a problem in the neck and often accompany neck pain.

C7-T1 Disc Herniation

The C7-T1 vertebrae mark the transition from the cervical spine to the thoracic spine, located at the base of the neck. This region, known as the cervicothoracic junction, plays a crucial role in supporting the neck and allowing for a wide range of motion while also serving as a pivot point for the upper spine. Due to its pivotal position and the load it supports, the C7-T1 segment is susceptible to injury and degeneration, which can lead to disc herniation at this level.

A herniated disc at the C7-T1 level can manifest through several symptoms, largely due to the compression or irritation of the nerve root at this junction. Common symptoms include radiating pain in the shoulders, arms, and hands, which may be accompanied by a sensation of tingling or numbness. 

Since the C8 nerve root (which exits the spine between the C7 and T1 vertebrae) innervates the hands, particularly affecting grip strength and fine motor skills, individuals may experience weakness in their hand muscles, difficulty in gripping objects, or a general decrease in manual dexterity. 

Additionally, patients might report a sensation of pins and needles or a burning feeling in the outer parts of their hands and fingers, particularly affecting the little finger and part of the ring finger, which are areas served by the C8 nerve root.

More About C6-C7 Herniated Disc

Here are answers to more questions you might have:

C6-C7 herniated disc exercises to avoid

You should avoid exercises that require significant physical effort and force, like running, tennis, soccer, basketball, cycling, and dancing. There are recommended exercises–swimming, yoga, pilates, and stretching–but you should always confirm with your doctor whether the exercises are appropriate for you. 

How to sleep with herniated C6-C7

The best sleeping position for herniated C6-C7 is lying on your back. This neutral position reduces the chances of you pinching the nerve. You can place a rolled-up towel or small pillow under your lower back and knees for added comfort. 

C6-C7 disc bulge treatment

A C6-C7 disc bulge can often be managed with exercises, physical therapy, and interventional pain management techniques. At times, these methods might not provide sufficient relief, necessitating surgical intervention to alleviate bulging disc discomfort. 

Fortunately, Deuk Spine Institute offers minimally invasive surgery for bulging discs, boasting an exceptional success rate and swift recovery period. Deuk Laser Disc Repair uses a small incision and does not cut the bone, which can weaken the spine. This advanced bulging disc surgery avoids the unpleasant side effects that most traditional spine surgeries incur and has a 99.6% success rate and a very short recovery time.

Do you have a recent scan?

How do you treat a herniated disc C6-C7?

Patients who are diagnosed and treated earlier have a faster recovery rate. Depending on whether you have minor or major symptoms, you’ll be treated using surgical or non-surgical procedures, after which you should avoid any strenuous activity for at least four weeks. If you want the best surgeon to treat a herniated disc, visit Dr. Deuk

Dr. Deuk has treated over 2,000 herniated or degenerated lumbar discs with no major complications. 

Looking for help with your herniated disc?

What are the symptoms of C6-C7 nerve damage?

C6-C7 disc damage usually causes the C7 nerve root to be inflamed. Patients with nerve root inflammation experience discomfort from symptoms like a lack of sensation in the middle finger, index, and palm. 

Patients might also feel a hot sensation that spreads from the base of their neck. Other symptoms include weakness in the upper arm and triceps, difficulty moving parts of the arm, uncontrollable sweating, and headaches. 

What part of the body does C6-C7 herniation affect?

The C6-C7 disc is located near the top of the shoulders and lower part of the neck. The C6 controls extensor muscles in the wrists and biceps and provides feeling to the thumb side of the hand and forearm.

C7 controls wrist extensor muscles and triceps and provides sensation to the middle finger and back of the arm. A herniation affects all these areas, including the heart, lungs, and more. 

How do you repair a herniated disc in the neck?

To repair a herniated disc in the neck, you could get surgical or non-surgical treatment, depending on the symptoms you’re experiencing. Getting diagnosed and treated at a world-class hospital is important to avoid complications. 

Deuk Spine Institute specializes in using minimally invasive techniques and spine treatments to help patients with herniated discs.

You can book a free MRI review with the hospital here

C6-C7 nerve root compression symptoms

According to research, C6-C7 nerve root compression mainly manifests as neck and arm pain, motor dysfunction, sensory loss, and reflex changes. Other symptoms include headaches, uncontrollable sweating, chest pains, and more. It is common for these symptoms to be misdiagnosed, so if you’re experiencing them, it is best to visit a doctor and get a second opinion

Treat Your C6-C7 Disc Herniation

At Deuk Spine Institute, we specialize in minimally invasive surgical techniques and comprehensive spine treatments to cure back and neck pain. Our world-class physicians are personally invested in the well-being of every patient. It’s crucial to carefully choose your healthcare provider for conditions as delicate as a C6-C7 disc herniation. 

At Deuk Spine Institute, we prioritize healing your pain rather than just managing it. We understand the profound impact your doctor’s expertise and approach to care can have on your recovery. This is why we’re committed to offering treatments that aim for a permanent solution to your pain. Start your treatment with us today by submitting your MRI online for a free remote review to determine your candidacy for surgery. You can also visit one of our locations in person by calling patient services at 321-255-6670.

Cure your back and neck pain once and for all.

Deuk Laser Disc Repair has patients back on their feet within an hour, feeling zero pain
Speak With a Surgeon
Want A Free 
MRI Review?
Our world-class surgeons at Deuk Spine Institute are standing by to review your MRI and provide a recommendation on the best way to get you out of pain, permanently. 
Start Your Free MRI Review
Dr. Deuk on a transparent background
About Deuk Spine Institute
World leader in Laser Spine Surgery
With world-class physicians on staff, the newest and most advanced technology, and a patient experience pathway that is unrivaled in it’s efficiency and and pedagogy of care, Deuk Spine Institute has performed thousands of procedures and achieves a 95% success rate in elimination of pain.

 The services we offer are not offered anywhere else in the world, and the treatments are curative, not palliative.  On top of that, Dr. Deukmedjian is personally invested in the well-being of each and every patient, and has spared no expense to guarantee the best possible outcomes.
Schedule Your Consultation
Viera: 7955 Spyglass Hill Rd Melbourne, FL 32940

Titusville: 494 N Washington Ave Titusville, FL 32796
© 2021 Deuk Spine Institute