E11: C5 C6 Disc Bulging

Dr. Mark Myers' article on C5 C6 Disc Bulging: All You Need to Know is one of the most frequently visited articles on the CLEAR website. Because of this, we decided to have a podcast episode solely dedicated to C5 C6 disc bulging.


Throughout episode 11, CLEAR's Executive Director, Ashley Brewer, and Dr. Mark Myers discuss a variety of topics Including:

  • The difference between a C5 C6 bulging disc and herniated C5 C6.
  • The symptoms of disc bulging.
  • Who may experience a herniated or bulging disc
  • How you can control inflammation in your body.
  • Why you should drink half of your body weight in ounces of water a day.
  • Why motion is extremely important for the spine.
  • Why disc issues will only continue to get worse over time.
  • A proactive approach to take if you have scoliosis and are suffering from a bulging or herniated disc.
  • How the CLEAR approach to treating scoliosis helps patients get function back.

Needless to say, episode 11 covers a lot in a short amount of time. We hope you'll tune in and enjoy the show!

Questions or Topics

If you have questions for Dr. Myers on C5 C6 disc bulging or a herniated C5 C6, leave a comment below. We would also love to know what you would like to hear in future episodes.
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Episode Transcript

Ashley B (00:00):

Hello, everyone. I'm your host for today's episode of Life Beyond the Curve, Ashley Brewer. I've known our co-host, Dr. Mark Myers, for the last several years. He's the author of one of our most frequently visited blog articles, and co-host for one of our most popular podcast episodes thus far. Located in Wheaton, Illinois, Dr. Mark Myers got into alternative scoliosis treatment because of his own sister's scoliosis diagnosis. He has been CLEAR certified since 2012. In addition to scoliosis treatment, Dr. Myers' clinic, Wheaton Family Chiropractic, provides chiropractic care for the entire family. Because he's a chiropractor, he's an awesome host for our episode on C5, C6 disc bulging. I hope you'll enjoy the show. Episode 11, here we go!

Intro (01:01):

You're listening to Life Beyond the Curve, a podcast brought to you by CLEAR Scoliosis Institute. Each week, we interview experts in the industry, answer your pressing question, and empower you to take control of your scoliosis diagnosis and live life to its fullest. Enjoy the show.

Ashley B (01:30):

Hey, Dr. Mark. Welcome back to Life Beyond the Curve. It's great to have you again today.

Dr. Myers (01:36):

Great to be here, Ashley.

Ashley B (01:38):

Now, your last podcast episode has been a favorite with our listeners and during that one, we covered, how much does scoliosis surgery cost. Now what's interesting is one of your blog articles on C5, C6 disc bulging is actually one of our most frequently viewed blog articles on the entire CLEAR website. So that's our topic for today, C5, C6 disc bulging, and it should be a hit with our listeners. Um, I actually just pulled up the analytics and in, just in the last 30 days, that article has been viewed almost 2,900 times. Now, you often hear people talk about a bulging disc or a herniated disc. So I guess my first question is, are these the same? Are they different? Does it really matter?

Dr. Myers (02:31):

Yeah, that's a great question. So the, between, uh, a bulging disc and herniated disc, the terms are often used interchangeably, but there is a slight difference. So I always explain that, uh, when you have a bulging or protruding disc, um, that's going to be where it's kind of pushing out further than it's supposed to. Whereas if you have a herniated disc, we think of like a jelly donut, a jelly is actually coming outside and it's not supposed to. Just like we create a mess on your clothes when jelly comes out, um, that that material is never supposed to leak outside of the, the disc fibers. So when that happens, it creates a chemical irritation to the nerves and all the surrounding tissues, which is why a lot of times people have so much pain and inflammation is because of that chemical irritation.

Ashley B (03:23):

You know what, I love that analogy I've been in chiropractic for going on 11 years now, and I've never heard that analogy before, so I like it. Um, now let's talk a little bit about symptoms. What type of symptoms might someone experience if they have a bulging or herniated disc? Because based off what you just said, I, they may be the same. Maybe not. I'll let you talk about that a little bit.

Dr. Myers (03:48):

Yeah. Sometimes the symptoms can be similar, but usually the, um, the level of intensity is going to be higher typically in a herniated disc, where the contents have started to leak out. Typically a herniated disc is going to have pain in the neck, um, perhaps in the shoulder, down into the arm. Um, oftentimes it's even associated with numbness and tingling into the different parts of the shoulder, arm or fingers, oftentimes depending on what level of nerve is being affected, that can affect different fingers. So that's often a clinical thing we use to kind of assess as a baseline before we have more definitive things like an MRI of what nerves are affected. We also do, um, different tests to measure grip strength, uh, cause that's another really important tool because if there's pressure on a nerve or part of the spinal cord, it actually decreases the nerve potential and can affect things like grip strength, which that actually is, um, in recent studies, is actually shown to be a huge clinical correlation because grips strength, um, just, um, has all kinds of clinical implications that they've shown it, um, can affect all-cause mortality. Uh, so, um, it's not just you being able to open a jar or, you know, hold a bag. Um, it actually has a huge impact on our health as well.

Ashley B (05:18):

For sure. Now, in your article, you referenced pain in the neck, arms, hands, shoulders, pins and needles, numbness, muscle spasms, weakness. That sounds pretty uncomfortable. So I would imagine that some people who have this may be very uncomfortable and may be thinking, I want to do something about this. So when it comes to, let's first talk specifically, C5, C6. Um, when it comes to pain associated with that, what are the different forms of treatment that are available?

Dr. Myers (05:53):

Typically, the traditional approach, usually would be cortisone injections or steroids, um, and or surgery sometimes they'll try physical therapy, uh, in some cases. Um, but usually, you know, when, uh, when a case goes to surgery, it's not always successful and you can't really go back, uh, once you go under the knife. So...

Ashley B (06:17):

What does that surgery look like if we're talking like specifically a disc issue?

Dr. Myers (06:23):

Typically what they'll do is go in and do a fusion where they actually, um, oftentimes will take cadaver bone and fill in the area, uh, and, uh, basically make it a solid chunk of bone where the two bones were. They, um, will often remove the disc and put cadaver bone in. Sometimes they'll put screws in, um, at around that basically just, uh, completely isolate that area. So, um, but then you're going to have a problem because you're going to lose motion now, above and below, and those vertebrae are going to have to move, or try and move even more to compensate. So it ends up causing degeneration, the other levels around that area of fusion. So...

Ashley B (07:12):

It sounds fairly complicated when you think of it that way. And I think most people, I know me personally, when I'm dealing with pain, I just want like to be out of pain now. Um, but something like you just described may help you be out of pain now, but maybe not in the longterm. So it's always interesting to think about how the decisions on how we handle those things are going to affect us in the long run. Um, and I know when it comes to treating pain, it can be very complicated. Now, with us here at CLEAR Scoliosis Institute, obviously you are a scoliosis-specific chiropractor. That is one of your areas of expertise. So let's talk a little bit about scoliosis and, um, disc problems. In your article that you wrote for our site, you reference a study of 152 patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis who experienced pain, which isn't actually that common, but that's another topic for adolescents, but 32 of the 152 patients had a herniated disc. So that's 21% of those patients. Let's talk a little bit about how or why that may be the case.

Dr. Myers (08:34):

Yeah. The reason why so many people have disc problems in scoliosis is because they've actually lost the curve in their neck. That's one of the things that, as a CLEA doctor, we assess the entire spine from top to bottom. And, uh, oftentimes I have seen even radiologists comment on that, uh, when a child comes in, um, previously from an orthopedic or some other referral, um, that they have a kyphotic neck or lost the curve in their neck, but usually all the attention goes to the area with the big curve. Right. And so, uh, it's kinda like triage at that moment. Yes, they might've had the loss of curve, but we have this curvature in the spine, the scoliosis that we're trying to deal with. And so, uh, at CLEAR, we actually work on both of those because a loss of curve in the neck puts spinal cord tension all along the spine. And whenever you have a, uh, scoliosis, that's a form of spinal cord tension that the body's trying to adapt to get more room, to make room for the spinal cord. And that's why those curves continue to get worse, is because the spinal cord tension's never addressed.

Ashley B (09:48):

Now, I think this is an important, um, subject for some of our listeners to understand. So let's talk a little bit just about the biomechanics of the spine in general, you're referencing curves for scoliosis. You're referencing curves of the neck. Now, explain what the spine should look like from the front and then from the side for our listeners who are maybe a little bit less familiar with this.

Dr. Myers (10:13):

Yeah. That's a great thing. So when we look at the spine from front to back, you want to imagine everything has to be perfectly straight up and down, and that's typically the way people would see the spine. And so from the neck, it needs to be straight, the mid back and the low back, all these need to be stacked right on top of each other. But when we look at it from the side, there's actually a C curve in the neck, then opposite shape in the mid back, and another C curve in the lower back. And oftentimes we'll see, uh, over, I would say over 90% of the time, I'll see someone with a straight neck, meaning they've lost that C shape, or in some cases it's actually bent completely the opposite direction.

Ashley B (10:57):

Wow. What kind of, what kind of an effect does that have if the curve is going the wrong way?

Dr. Myers (11:03):

Yeah. So you can imagine if you had, you know, of, um, you know, even like a banana, if we took the shape of a banana and dent the shape of that, how it's going to affect the fruit inside. And the same thing happens with the spinal cord, is it gets stretched more and more. And there's been all kinds of studies to show that with someone with just a straight neck, the spinal cord gets stretched anywhere from four to six centimeters longer. That's creating spinal cord tension all throughout the spine from top to bottom.

Ashley B (11:35):

Yeah. And you talk about something called military neck. Can you explain that a little bit?

Dr. Myers (11:40):

Yeah. So a military neck would be so a neck that's straight up and down. So if you imagine someone standing at attention trying to stand as tall as possible, uh, some of what the military, uh, type of, um, straightening is, they've just lost all the curve there.

Ashley B (11:57):

Yeah. Okay. So now back to the topic. You're a chiropractor, I mentioned earlier, you've gone through tons of training when it comes to alternative scoliosis treatment. So let's talk a little bit about that alternative chiropractic approach to specifically C5, C6 disc bulging, because based on what we're seeing on our site, that is something that people are searching for on Google all the time. Let's talk about that alternative chiropractic approach to treating C5, C6.

Dr. Myers (12:31):

So one of the biggest things that, uh, the, one of the first things I always recommend to my patients is hydration. Uh, the discs are 90% water. So we want to maximize the capacity of that water in the discs, because most people aren't aware when you sleep, your discs actually shrink. And it's when you are basically moving around your body's adapting to gravity, that's when they start to come back up. But if you don't have the proper hydration, they actually will stay lower than they're supposed to. So we all first recommend getting at least half of your body weight in fluid ounces of water, getting micro motion into the spine, getting little bits of motion whenever possible, cause motion is life for the spine. Um, as a CLEAR chiropractor, we work on introducing motion through, uh, basically instrument adjusting to help get the vertebrae moving. We help, uh, we have different tools to help restore the cervical curve, the neck curve to get it back where it's supposed to be to relieve that spinal cord tension. And ultimately that controlling inflammation as well is another tool that we work on and giving people action steps, whether it's through their, their diet and, uh, controlling, um, the inflammation through different tools like that as well.

Ashley B (13:53):

Now, when we're talking about scoliosis specifically and C5, C6 disc bulging, or just disc herniation or bulging discs in general, when it comes to scoliosis, is that something that everybody with scoliosis ends up having or experiencing?

Dr. Myers (14:12):

Anybody with a loss of motion in their spine or a loss of curve will end up with degeneration. That's, it's only a matter of time. And that's why, whether someone has a bulging or herniated disc, or has any symptoms, I would still recommend they get checked, because not knowing like these problems never stay in one spot, they're always going to get worse over time.

Ashley B (14:35):

And I think that's something that we talk about frequently at CLEAR, because one of the most common treatment approaches, which isn't really a treatment approach, but for scoliosis, specifically mild scoliosis, which is less than 25 degrees, is to watch and wait. But here at CLEAR, we take a way more, uh, proactive approach, because like you just said with your discs, if you're not doing something it's only a matter of time. So let's talk a little bit just about that proactive approach a little bit more when it comes to treating scoliosis or just taking care of your body in general.

Dr. Myers (15:12):

Yeah. For scoliosis patients, the CLEAR approach is really for all about getting function back. So we're, we're able to identify where the patients have lost the motion, where there's degeneration, give them a specific game plan to help restore that motion, to get the rehydration back and get function back. And that's really where the success is and helping give the body what it needs.

Ashley B (15:37):

And, um, just one other question for you kind of, as I'm thinking here, uh, just random, what's the youngest patient that you've seen that has degeneration in their spine?

Dr. Myers (15:48):

I've actually seen a 13 year old with, uh, advanced degeneration in their spine. Cause think about that. There's, uh, we see that there's actually birth trauma causing misalignments, causing loss of motion. It's only a matter of within 10 to 15 years, you can already have degenerative changes in the discs. The research shows it only takes two weeks to start creating microscopic arthritis. And so if you think about that, you know, that's why everybody should be seeing a chiropractor.

Ashley B (16:20):

Yup. And I think that's important because I think people hear things like degeneration. And I know in my brain even, I tend to just go to, Oh, that's something that happens as you age. That's a natural thing, but you're talking a 13 year old patient that you've seen that significant, um, degeneration in their spine. So that's very important for our listeners. Now, um, we're we need to wrap up here, this has gone fast. So just on the topic of disc degeneration or a bulging disc or a herniated disc, if somebody is listening today and they are experiencing the pain or the symptoms like the grip issues you talked about earlier associated with this type of thing, what advice do you give to them?

Dr. Myers (17:09):

That's a great question, Ashley. You know, uh, Steve Kerr is the Golden State Warriors coach and, uh, underwent back surgery, uh, had one back surgery, it failed and had a second back surgery in 2015 and in an interview, he told the Washington Post, if I can, he says, I can tell you if you're listening out there, stay away from back surgery. I can say from the bottom of my heart, rehab rehab rehab, don't let anyone get in there. You know, finding a CLEAR chiropractor and getting an evaluation. A second opinion is worth its weight in gold, if you can avoid surgery.

Ashley B (17:44):

Absolutely. I think that is phenomenal advice. Um, do you have any closing thoughts or anything that you wanted to touch on before we wrap up here?

Dr. Myers (17:54):

You know, it's, it's very fulfilling, you know, as a, as a chiropractor, to be able to see patients that come in that have, just think that their life is over, and then to see them on the other side, you know, when their symptoms are gone, they've been able to avoid surgery, they've got function back. And to see that, that's why, you know, we do what we do, is to be able to help people with specific issues like this, who don't know where to turn and to help give them hope.

Ashley B (18:24):

Yeah, and you sound like a great person to turn to if somebody is struggling with that. So thank you so much for taking the time and joining us today. And I know we're going to have you again in the future and I'm already looking forward to it.

Dr. Myers (18:37):

Thanks, Ashley. It's been a pleasure.

Ashley B (18:39):

If you're listening today and would like to talk to someone to get more information, you can call (866) 663-7030. Again, that phone number is (866) 663-7030. We hope we can connect with you soon. There's more to come next week, but first here's a little on how you can help support our show. Instacart.com

 

Author: Dr. Mark Myers

Dr. Mark Myers had a passion for health that started at a young age while reading nutrition books. His passion continued in high school when he did research and reports on the effects of alternative medicine. Eventually, this led him to become a chiropractor. Seeing how his sister's health and function was affected on a daily basis by her scoliosis diagnosis, eventually led him to become CLEAR-certified in 2012.
Reach out to Dr. Mark Myers

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