Q:

Can a bulged C5 and C6 disk in the neck cause tension in the shoulders?

A:

Quick Answer

Cervical bulging discs in the neck, which include the top seven vertebrae in the spine, may affect the back of the head, shoulder blades, arms, neck and hands, according to Twin Boro Physical Therapy. The C5 through C7 vertebrae levels have the highest rate of bulging.

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Full Answer

Pain may start in the neck and go all the way down to the hand if the bulging cervical disc pinches a nerve root, notes Twin Boro Physical Therapy. Weakness in an arm may occur, which may lead to paralysis in severe cases. Muscle spasms and loss of motion along the affected discs can happen. Symptoms depend on the location of the bulging discs and what surrounding tissues are affected by the discs.

Pain, numbness and tingling may travel to shoulders from the nerves attached to the bulging discs in the neck, notes the Laser Spine Institute. Symptoms may also be felt in the chest, hands and throughout the arms. The level of pain depends on how much of the bulging disc in the neck presses up against a nerve. Pain starts at the base of the root nerve and can travel all the way to the end of the nerve. The end of the main nerves in the neck lie in the fingers.

A bulging disc extends beyond the space it normally occupies, and this bulging occurs naturally as people age, according to Mayo Clinic. Discs are made of cartilage and act as shock absorbers between vertebrae.

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