Neck injuries can be extremely painful. In some cases, the pain and loss of motion can interfere with work and daily activities. Herniated discs between the C4/C5 and C5/C6 vertebrae are possible neck injuries resulting in pain and loss of motion.

Vertebrae and Intervertebral Discs

The bones that make up your spinal column are called vertebrae. There are seven bones in the neck (cervical spinal column) numbered C1 through C7. In between each set of bones is a small pillow-like object called an intervertebral disc.

The intervertebral disc acts like a small cushion that absorbs jolts and shocks as your body moves. The discs protect the bones from damage and aid in motion. Without the intervertebral discs, the spinal bones would grind together from the friction caused by movement.

Each intervertebral disc is made up of two sections. The inner section is the nucleus pulposus. It contains a gel-like substance.

The outer portion of the disc is the annulus fibrosus. It acts like a tough shell to keep the gel-like substance contained within the disc.

What Is a Herniated Disc?

A herniated disc occurs when the center of the disc bulges or seeps out through the outer portion. Herniated discs are also called ruptured, slipped, or bulged discs. A herniated disc can cause severe pain and limited range of motion.

The pain can come from the pressure placed on spinal nerves as the nucleus pulposus pushes through the annulus fibrosus. Pain may also be caused when the gel-like substance in the nucleus seeps through the annulus fibrosus into the spinal column. The substance irritates the spinal nerves, causing pain and discomfort.

The pain from a herniated intervertebral disc may be sharp, stabbing pain. Some individuals also describe the pain as burning and constant. 

A common location for herniated discs in the neck is between the C4 and C5 vertebrae and the C5 and C6 vertebrae. 

Diagnosis and Treatment of Herniated Discs 

Pain is the most common symptom of a herniated cervical disc. The pain may increase as the person moves, especially with specific types of movement. Other symptoms of a herniated cervical disc can include:

  • Weakness in the upper extremities and shoulders
  • Numbness and tingling in the arms or hands
  • Shooting pain through the shoulders, hands, and arms
  • Neck pain when bending or turning the neck

The symptoms vary based on the location of the herniated disc in the neck. Doctors may narrow the location of the herniated cervical disc based on the symptoms the person experiences. 

In addition to analyzing symptoms and performing a physical examination, doctors may use imaging tools to identify a herniated disc. MRIs, x-rays, and CT scans can help locate the herniated disc. Nerve conduction studies may also be used to diagnose a herniated disc.

The treatment plan for a herniated cervical disc depends on the patient’s symptoms. Doctors often try non-invasive, conservative treatments first. They may prescribe pain medication, muscle relaxers, and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications) to treat the pain and other symptoms.

If the patient does not respond to medications, doctors might also prescribe physical therapy, collar immobilization, and traction to treat a herniated cervical disc. Surgery, spinal cord stimulation devices, spinal steroid injections, or intrathecal pain pumps might be used to treat severe cases of herniated intervertebral discs.

Common Causes of Herniated Cervical Discs

Any strong jolt or blow to the neck could cause a herniated disc. Lifting heavy objects and disc degeneration can also cause a herniated disc in the neck. Accidents that cause pressure on the cervical spinal column or cause the neck to twist or jerk violently can also result in a herniated cervical disc.

Common accidents that could result in a herniated cervical disc include:

Spinal cord injuries can result in long-term impairments. It is important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible if you are injured in an accident. If you require surgery, physical therapy, or long-term pain management for a herniated cervical disc, you could be entitled to substantial financial damages.

Filing a Personal Injury Claim for a Herniated Cervical Disc

If another person caused your injury, you could recover compensation for damages caused by a cervical herniated disc. Examples of damages you might receive for an injury claim include:

  • Cost of medical treatment, including medications, doctor’s bills, medical equipment, physical therapy, surgery, and other treatments
  • Loss of income, including wages, benefits, salaries, commissions, and bonuses
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress and mental anguish
  • Permanent disabilities and impairments
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

The value of your personal injury claim depends on several factors. A personal injury lawyer can evaluate your claim and explain how you can increase your chance of recovering full compensation for all damages caused by a herniated disc.