A C6 pinched nerve is located near the base of the neck, in the second to last cervical vertebra. There are seven cervical vertebrae in all, labeled C1 to C7, which are the uppermost vertebrae of the spine. The cervical vertebrae support the head and neck – and between each of the vertebrae are eight pairs of nerve roots, labeled C1 to C8, which branch out from the spinal cord and are responsible for controlling different functions within the upper body.
For example, the nerve roots that travel through the first vertebra (C1) are responsible for controlling the head and neck while the C4 nerve roots control the biceps. When a nerve root at any level of the spine becomes impinged (or pinched), symptoms will typically be located in the areas of the body that are controlled by those nerves, and the activity in the corresponding region may also be affected.
Nerve roots at the C6 level
It should be noted that everybody has a slightly different nerve root “map,” so individuals with a C6 pinched nerve will likely experience slightly different symptoms. Typically, however, when a nerve root is pinched at the C6 level, pain, weakness, tingling and numbness may be felt down the arm and into the thumb. This occurs because the C6 nerve roots usually are responsible for managing the extensor muscles that control movements in the wrists. In some cases, a C6 pinched nerve may cause atrophy (or weakening) in the biceps. Physicians should check to ensure that a patient’s reflexes in the lower arms have not also become diminished.
A C6 pinched nerve is typically caused by a spinal condition such as a collapsed disc, osteoarthritis or spinal stenosis. In order to alleviate the symptoms associated with an impinged nerve, the underlying condition must first be treated. A minimally invasive procedure performed at Laser Spine Institute can effectively treat many conditions affecting the neck and back. Contact Laser Spine Institute for more information on these procedures and how they can alleviate the symptoms associated with pinched nerves.