Neck surgery at the C6-C7 level of the cervical spine is rarely necessary. Most of the time, the symptoms of a herniated disc, bulging disc, arthritis or other spinal condition at that vertebral level can be managed using pain medication, physical therapy and other conservative methods of treatment. However, when the symptoms become unmanageable or the pain becomes debilitating, a physician might suggest surgery as a route to relief.
Symptoms of C6-C7 nerve compression
The seven cervical vertebrae (named C1 to C7) located at the top of the spine serve to protect the top of the spinal cord, which is part of the central nervous system and descends from the brain. At each vertebral level, nerve roots branch off the spinal cord in order to send and receive sensory and motor messages to and from the brain. When a condition such as degenerative disc disease or osteoarthritis affects the anatomical structure of the spine, these nerve roots can become irritated, or “pinched.” When this occurs at the C6-C7 level near the base of the neck, the following symptoms can occur:
- Localized pain in the location of the nerve impingement
- Weakness in the triceps muscle along the back of one or both arms
- Weakness in the finger extensor muscles
- Pain in the triceps, radiating down the back of the arm, the wrists and into the middle finger
- Numbness in the triceps, radiating down into the middle finger
- Tingling in the triceps, radiating down into the middle finger
When neck surgery at the C6-C7 level becomes an option
Should these symptoms remain unbearable after several weeks or months of conservative treatment, traditional open spine surgical options might include disc replacement and/or spinal fusion, which are highly invasive operations that require months of recuperation. However, there is an alternative. Tens of thousands of patients have found relief at Laser Spine Institute, where advanced techniques are used to perform minimally invasive, outpatient procedures that require far shorter recuperation than traditional open neck surgery. Contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more or for a review of your MRI or CT scan.