c6 and c7 nerve path not adding up.
by DANIEL WALKER
C6 and c7 nerve path not adding up is a not uncommon conundrum.
So I had a minor ache in my back after working out in the gym and figured I just pulled a muscle. It has happened in the past and would usually just rest a few days and then go back to normal gym schedule.
This time however I went back to the gym, and after doing a chest/ tricep workout along with throwing a football far distances, I woke up with incredible pain in my upper back/ shoulder region. I figured I had either torn or strained a muscle in my back/shoulder area.
Then my index finger and thumb started to become numb and have been for a month now. I feel the pain radiating from my neck back area all the way down my tricep to my thumb and index finger.
I got an MRI and it said mild disc protrusion on c6 and moderate disc protrusion on c7 with possible c7 nerve root impingement. Have done some research these results don't add up for me. If I had the c7 nerve root impingement is should have a numb middle finger but that is not the case. And I do have numb index finger but can feel the pain radiating down through my tricep rather than my bicep. At physical therapy the PT says it is possible it is my radial nerve is the issue. Can a disc protrusion effect the radial nerve? Or can a strained or torn muscle cause radial nerve compression?
Your concerns are genuine, and frankly confusing to clinicians too.
The radial nerve is unlikely to be affected since it is almost invariably due to severe trauma to the arm; dislocation of the shoulder, fracture, or being stabbed. Plus, it supplies the back of the arm, lower arm and hand. Is it the palmar surface of your first two fingers that are affected?
A disc lesion can certainly affect one of the nerve roots affecting the radial nerve, but again, back of the hand.
I don't believe a muscle injury can affect the radial nerve. Ask the neurologist for confirmation of that.
Also, the thumb and index finger is highly specific: C6 dermatome which would be affected by the C5-C6 disc.
It's the "mild" protrusion on C6 that is almost certainly affecting you, and not the "moderate" protrusion on C7.
To muddy the waters further, severe deep upper back pain is usually denervation of the rhomboid or levator scapular muscles, and they are C5.
One has to lay out the whole problem, which reflex is missing, which muscle has gone weak (most commonly the triceps incidentally which is why you probably have the pain at the back of the upper arm) But that is the C5 area probably, which perhaps correlates with the upper back pain. It's even possible that the C4-C5 level is the spoke on the wheel, despite not being obvious on the MRI. Which reflex has been affected? Biceps, triceps or brachioradialis? Ask.
And then palpation of the neck itself gives important clues as to which level has been affected.
For what it's worth, I often find that it's pull downs that provoke this injury.
Three key questions:
1. Does turning your head to the side of the painful arm, and then looking up cause pain in the neck and radiation to the arm?
2. Is the Upper limb tension test positive? Type it into the search function at chiropractic help, and have a friend do the test.
3. Is the numb tingly pain in your arm relieved or worsened by raising your arm above your head?
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