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How is C5 and C6 disc herniation treated ?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2003
Answered : 336 Questions
The right side of my neck is swollen but it is not painful,however I do have pain in my shoulder and chest. The right side of my face and my right arm are numb - have been for days. I had an mri and the doctor said it showed herniated disc c5 and c6 - also decreased brain size and muscle mass. He is not concerned, but I am - he is unable to tell me what might be causing my facial numbness and neck swelling. He said in his opinion the mri is within normal range which makes no sense to me. I am 37 years old. This is also the same doctor who told me my cholesterol is normal yet my total cholesterol is 241 with my triglycerides being 176, LDL 160, HDL 46. Can you give me your opinion? I'm afraid there is something really wrong with me and I don't know what to do.
Posted Wed, 25 Apr 2012 in Brain and Spine
Answered by Dr. Deepak Anvekar 2 hours later
Hello Kam,
Thanks for the query.

From the history provided it seems that you have a slightly high cholesterol levels.

The desired cholesterol range is < 200 mg / dL
Triglycerides should be less than 160
LDL should be less than 130
and HDL should be ABOVE 40

Hence though your levels are higher, than normal the need for treatment with medications depends on the age, the associated risk factors ( like high blood pressure, cardiac disease, diabetes, family history, etc).

In your case, being less than 40 years and probably not having most of the important risk factors must be the reason your doctor has chosen to manage you conservatively and not start any medications for cholesterol as of now.

With respect to the MRI findings, it would be better if you can send me the complete report if available. This would help me to interprete it properly.

For your information, here are the signs and symptoms associated with C5 and C6 disc herniation.

A cervical herniated disc will typically cause pain patterns and neurological deficits as follows:

C4 - C5 (C5 nerve root) - Can cause weakness in the deltoid muscle in the upper arm. Does not usually cause numbness or tingling. Can cause shoulder pain.

C5 - C6 (C6 nerve root) - Can cause weakness in the biceps (muscles in the front of the upper arms) and wrist extensor muscles. Numbness and tingling along with pain can radiate to the thumb side of the hand.

Since your symptoms include pain in the arm and shoulder, they could be due to compression of the nerve roots . Hence a physical examination and evaluation by a neurologist would be helpful.

The cause of the neck and facial swelling has to be assessed with a physical examination to know the exact cause. But they cannot be attributed to be due to the cervical disc herniation.

I hope the suggestions given help you to decide your health care issues.

Please feel free to consult me in case of any doubts.


Dr Anvekar.

I hope this helps.‎
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