What Are the Symptoms of a C5-6 Disc Protrusion?

A C5-C6 disk protrusion or herniation can cause weakness in the biceps muscle and pain, numbness and tingling down from the biceps through the lateral side arm and into the thumb and index finger, explains the University of Florida Department of Neurosurgery. Cervical disk protrusions are usually diagnosed using an MRI.

About 80 percent of cervical disk herniations can be treated conservatively. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or oral steroid medications can reduce swelling and inflammation in the pinched nerve, reports Spine Universe. Since a pinched nerve due to a herniated disk can cause muscle spasms, muscle relaxants are sometimes prescribed. In cases of severe pain, short courses of narcotic pain medications may be given.

Other conservative treatments may include ice, heat, massage, chiropractic care or physical therapy to reduce inflammation, muscle spasms and pain. An epidural steroid injection is recommended in some cases. A doctor, usually a surgeon or pain specialist, uses an X-ray to visualize the area of the disk herniation and injects a mixture of steroid and local anesthesia around the inflamed nerve, explains Spine-health.

When conservative methods fail to relieve symptoms, surgery to remove the bulging or herniated area of the disk is sometimes used. The most common procedure, an anterior cervical discectomy and spine fusion, involves removing the herniated piece of disc through a small incision in the front of the neck and stabilizing that area of the spine using a bone graft or plate, says Spine-health.