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C5-C6 6mm disc protrusion HELP me understand please

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,082
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:31 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi all,
I am brand new to these boards so please be patient with me in this post. :)

March 9th a clock at work (about the diameter of a small car tire) fell off wall onto my neck and head. Immediately went to dr where they perscribed pain meds and sent me on my way. After seeing another doctor when pain got so bad I couldnt move my neck, he ordered an MRI here is what the report reads:

At c5-C6 there is a 6mm central disc protrusion encroaching upon and appearing to touch the ventral surface of the spinal cord. There is narrowing of the left neural foramen.
( HELP what the heck does this mean lol)

At c6-c7 there is a 3mm central dics protrusion. There is no nerve root or spinal cord compression.

Pain is HORRIBLE I have severe buring at back of neck and terrible headaches at base of skull. Tending to have lots of muscle spasms and generally in a ton of pain. Also have pain in left arm and numbness in left hand.

Have been to 12 PT treatments with no luck sometimes it got worse. Dr said not to continue with PT.

Had cortisone shots with NO relief to speak of.

Now taking Soma,Celebrex and when its real bad Vicoden.

Have NeuroSurgeon appt June 3 and GP says expect him to advise surgery. At this point I am ready to try anything as I cant work, or do anything that I normally do even driving is rough.

If you can input in anyway I would so appreciate it.
Thank you for listening to me rattle.



  • Hi Bethyann, Sorry to hear about what you are going thru...you have come to the right place...there are lots of folks here who have been where you are now. In essence...you have 2 herniated discs...one worse than the other...clearly they are concerned about the fact that it is "pushing" against your spinal cord...the discs are also "pinching" off the nerves which is causing your numbness and pain. I had a very similar diagnosis and am now 8 weeks post-op from cervical disc fusion surgery(c5-7). My surgery seems to have been a sucess, but, I am still recovering. It is good that you are getting in to see a NS soon...ask lots of questions...both with your Dr. and here...we are happy to help. I would tell you that it is unlikely to expect much relief(personal experience) in the short-term...in hindsight...I wished I would have had the surgery sooner after my neck injury. I would tell you that in addition to the meds...my Dr. gave me a cervical collar(neck brace)to help with the pain and provide some support...you may want to ask about this...it can at least allow you to go about "your life" in the short-term until they decide how to proceed...please feel free to PM me if you have any questions...hope things work out for you, take care, Olivia
  • Thank you so much for your response Olivia, this has been such a rough road.
    If I may ask a few more questions....
    Is 6mm tear considered larger or smaller then average as related to a surgery need?
    What is the normal hospital stay or is it mainly outpatient?
    I have a desk job do you have any idea when I might be able to return after surgery?
    I realize you folks are NOT MD's however from reading the boards you have LOTS of knowledge and experience.
    I would also like to thank everyone for their support the depression has really got to me (normal?) and reading these boards has helped so so much!
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  • Hello Bethyann,
    I read over your post and it seems to match mine somewhat. So here goes with what I had and then what I was told it all meant.

    C3-4 central disk contacts ventral surface of spinal cord. Spinal canal measures 8mm.C4-5 broad posterior disk osteophyte, more focal posterolateral to the left. Spinal cord is flattened and thecal sac is 8-9 mm.C5-6 Broad based posterior disk with mild bilateral joint hypertrophy. Cord is flattened the thecal sack 9 mm.C6-7 posterior diskk osteophyte complex, more focal posterolateral to the right. Cord flattened. Thecal sac measures 8mm.

    I tried pt, chiropratic, epidural, pin point inections, the burning of the nerves, everything. Nothing worked.

    I was told that in the cervical spine, the normal diameter is around 14mm. I just had a three level ACDF of C4-5, C5-6, and C6-7. I am post op 11 days so far. I had the same symptoms as you. Muscle spasms (bad)burning in the neck, god aweful headaches, pain in left and right arms, tingling in hands. PT made it worse. I started having problems with urinary urgency, pain in legs and chest pain. I felt great after the surgery though. The muscle spasms have came back in though but the surgeon said that my neck had collapsed so that when they went in to put bone back in they naturally had to extend the levels. This causes the muscle spasms and they should go away in time. I haven't had any headaches and hopefully will not and have not had any major pain or tingling in my hands or arms.The doc said it takes time for the nerves to heal and when they do they may tingle for awhile. I am really happy so far. I have to wear a brace for 12 weeks mininum. Eating is a chore, swallowing is a new experience but I am glad I had the surgery. I was REALLY nervous though and got clauserphobic thinking about the brace but the thought was worse then the surgery. I hope this helps and if you need any other information, let me know by private message if need be. Otherwise good luck and don't wait too long.
  • I'm not sure if I can answer your qustion about the size of the tear...my recollection was that mine was similar. I would have to believe that if it were "really bad"...they would be getting you in right away for surgery...so my guess is it is "normal"...if that makes sense...LOL! Have you seen a neurosurgeon yet? If so, are they going to do a ACDF (anterior cervical disc fusion)...this is most common and there are a few different ways they can fuse the bones...you will want to know this..I would tell you that with me they used titanium plates screws etc. and I was in the hospital for 2 nights...I think this is typical...you can expect to be very "sore" and have a difficult time swallowing and talking...definitely the first week...and really for at least 2+ weeks. By the 3rd week I was feeling pretty good...I did notice that my pre-op symptoms were gone shortly after surgery(a good thing!). You can also expect that when you wake up after surgery you will be in a very rigid neck brace and will have to wear it for several weeks(I will be in mine at least 12 weeks and I read in Tina's post that she will be 12 weeks as well...she has described this well)...the brace is NOT fun...but I'm glad they have me wearing it...if that makes sense...LOL!!!...I also have a desk job and was able to return to work (PT) at about 4 weeks but felt like I could've done it a week or so earlier...you will not be able to drive etc. for a while(neck brace)...depression...I think it is very common when you are in pain with no relief..in hindsight...I wished now I would've "pushed" to have my surgery sooner...I went almost 8 months from my injury until I had the surgery. My advice is do anything you can to minimize the pain...meds(within reason), ice, heat, cervical collar etc. until you do have surgery...I'm assuming that is what they are going to do...try to keep your life as normal as possible...don't let this get you down..it can and will get better...think positive...hope this helps...I will send you a "PM" as well, take care, Olivia
  • If you are encountering the pain levels you mentioned lasting 6 weeks or more - have the surgery. Once you have the surgery you will feel immediate relief however you could be proned to be proned to future surgeries as the adjacent disc's become stressed. I have had 3 neck surgeries in 12 years. One due to failed fusion. Today, fusion success is much better then 1996.
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  • With neck pain i also hve rt.leg pain with rt.arm pain.mri shows c45 abtting ventral cord,c56,c7d1,d1d2 mild bulge.pain decreases with rest
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