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What Is C5/C6 Nerve Damage?

By Rick Suttle ; Updated July 27, 2017

The C5/C6 nerves are located around the fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae of the neck, closer to the spinal cord. There are seven cervical vertebrae and eight cervical nerves in the body. These nerves can be pinched or compressed at times from various ailments or injuries.

Significance

Each of the eight cervical nerves controls certain reflexes in upper body. Damage to the C5/C6 nerves can hinder certain flexion and extension movements in the shoulders, arms, wrists, hands and fingers, according to Peter F. Ullrich, Jr., MD, writing for Spine-Health.com.

Function

Though the C5 and C6 nerves are close in proximity, they control different areas. Damage to C5 nerves can cause shoulder pain and some numbness. A person's bicep reflex may be somewhat hindered as well. People with C6 nerve damage can experience pain and numbness down their arm to the thumb area.

Identification

A doctor must properly diagnose C5/C6 nerve damage, which can be caused by a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, spondylosis and even degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis.

Treatments

Damage to C5/C6 nerves that is caused by a herniated disc or other ailments can usually be treated with ice, anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and rest, according to SpineUniverse.com. Ice should be used during the first 24 to 48 hours to reduce the initial pain and inflammation.

Prevention/Solution

A person with C5/C6 nerve should eventually start an exercise program with the help of a doctor or physical therapist. This exercise program should commence once the initial pain and inflammation are under control, provided surgery is not necessary.

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