What is a C5/C6 Injury?

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The human body is made up of many different interconnected systems, all of which work together to allow the body to move, function, and thrive, like the spine. When even one part of the spine is damaged, a person can suffer from serious, debilitating injuries. One part of the spine that is prone to injury is the base of the neck, where the C5 and C6 vertebrae are located. If you or someone you love has suffered from an acute spinal cord injury at the C5/C6 vertebrae, you may be able to file a claim for compensation. The Chicago spinal cord injury attorneys at Curcio & Casciato have experience in handling various spinal injuries, including neck injuries, and can help prove that your injuries were the result of negligence. 

Call us at (312) 321-1111 to schedule a free consultation with one of our legal professionals regarding your case.

What are the C5 and C6 Vertebrae?

The C5 and C6 vertebrae are two of the bones that make up the upper part of the spinal column, the bony structure that keeps the upper body upright and protects the spinal cord. The spine is broken up into three different sections: the cervical spine, the thoracic spine, and the lumbar spine. The C5 and C6 vertebrae are cervical vertebrae, which are at the top of the spinal column closest to the head. 

The spinal cord is one of the most integral parts of the central nervous system, as it sends and receives messages from the brain. This allows our nervous system to continue with automatic bodily functions like digestion and allows us to control manual movements like walking. Each vertebra is responsible for protecting the spinal cord and the spinal nerves that extend throughout the body.

What the C5 and C6 Vertebrae Do

Like all other spinal vertebrae, the C5/C6 vertebrae protect the spinal cord nerves from becoming damaged. More specifically, the C5/C6 vertebrae support the head and neck and allow the neck to have a certain amount of flexibility. This allows the head and neck to tilt and twist without damaging the spinal cord or spinal nerve roots in the process.

What the C5 and C6 Nerves Do

The C5/C6 nerves control motor function and sensory input from different parts of the upper body. The C5 nerves provide control and sensory relay for the deltoid and bicep muscles, as well as the shoulder muscles. The C6 nerves provide control and sensory relay for the thumb side of the forearm, hand, and wrist extensor muscles. Back injuries that damage these nerves impede movement and sensation for these specific parts of the body.

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Common C5 and C6 Injuries

There are a number of different cervical spine injuries someone may suffer from as a result of trauma, age, wear, or growth. Below are some of the most common C5/C6 injuries, as well as their symptoms.

Disc Herniation

The spinal vertebrae are separated from one another by intervertebral discs, which cushion the bones in the spinal column. When the intervertebral disc is compressed hard enough, it can cause the squishy material at the center of the disc to be pushed through the harder outer part of the disc. This is referred to as a herniated disk.

Cervical disc herniation can lead to cervical radiculopathy, a condition where pinched nerves in the neck cause pain, numbness, and weakness. It can also cause spinal stenosis, a condition where the cervical spinal canal is narrowed, either by a herniated disc or bone spur.

We dive into this further here: radiculopathy vs neuropathy.

Vertebral Fracture

Vertebral fractures are a type of spine fracture that results in breaks or cracks in the vertebrae. The cervical vertebrae are made up of a number of different parts, like the vertebral body and vertebral arch, which can become broken through trauma. The primary symptom of a vertebral fracture is neck pain, and this kind of fracture can be identified using diagnostic imaging tests like CT scans and radiographs.

Cervical Spondylosis

Cervical spondylosis is a condition caused by degenerative arthritis of the cervical spine (cervical osteoarthritis). As our bodies age, the intervertebral discs can wear down, causing vertebrae to rub together and generate bone spurs. This condition causes neck pain, headaches, and a grinding feeling when moving the neck.

Cervical Scoliosis

Scoliosis is the abnormal curvature of the spine, which can often occur in children just before puberty. Cervical scoliosis occurs when the cervical spine is unnaturally curved, either in isolation from the rest of the spine or as a result of a severe case of scoliosis, which affects multiple parts of the spine. This can lead to uneven shoulders, a loss of height, or an unnatural bend to the neck.

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Common Causes of C5 and C6 Injuries

Cervical spine injuries can occur in a variety of different contexts, but all of them have the capacity to cause serious, long-lasting damage. Below are some of the most common causes of C5/C6 injuries and how they could affect the cervical spinal cord.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Trauma from a motor vehicle accident can very easily cause serious injuries, including C5/C6 injuries. Things like rapid deceleration can cause the head and neck to move violently back and forth, which can lead to pinched nerves, herniated discs, or damage to the spinal cord. A Chicago motor vehicle accident attorney can help these victims recover compensation for their suffering.

Slip and Fall Accidents

In a slip-and-fall accident, someone can hit their head on a hard surface like a table, the stairs, or the floor. This can cause a traumatic brain injury, but it can also cause spinal injuries like whiplash as a result of rapid head and neck movements. Property owners are responsible for keeping their property safe, so when they leave trip hazards or wet floors unresolved, they could be found liable for injuries in a premises liability lawsuit. Be sure to consult with a Chicago premises liability attorney at Curcio & Casciato to learn more.

Chiropractor Malpractice

Another common cause of spinal cord injuries is chiropractor malpractice. Improper manipulation or excessive force during neck adjustments can cause damage to the cervical spine, causing C5/C6 injuries like disc herniation or vertebral fracture. At Curcio & Casciato our Chicago chiropractor malpractice attorneys have the skills and experience necessary to help victims recover a fair settlement.

Wear and Tear

Neck injuries don’t have to occur as a result of physical trauma–they can occur very slowly over the course of years or even decades. General wear and tear can cause intervertebral discs in the spine to wear down, eliminating the cushion between the vertebrae. This can lead to pinched or inflamed nerves, bone spurs, and limited movement.

Bad Posture and “Tech Neck”

In the digital age, poor posture, especially from prolonged use of technology, can lead to what is often referred to as “tech neck.” This condition arises from constantly looking down at devices, going against the spine’s natural cervical curve, and causing strain. This forward head posture can lead to neck pain, disc pain and degeneration, and bone spurs.

C5/C6 Injury Treatment

There are a number of various treatments available for a cervical spinal cord injury, as the long-term effects of fractured vertebrae are different for everyone. Depending on the severity, a C5/C6 may require invasive medical treatment like surgery, but in some cases, these injuries can be treated with non-surgical methods.

Surgical Treatments

In cases where there is severe damage, such as a herniated disc, fracture, or compression of multiple nerve roots or the spinal cord, surgery may be necessary. Below are some of the various surgical procedures someone with a C5/C6 spinal injury may undergo to reverse or repair damage to their spine or spinal cord.

  • Cervical artificial disc replacement – a damaged disc in the neck is removed and replaced with an artificial one.
  • Anterior cervical discectomy and spinal fusion – a damaged disc in the neck is removed and adjacent vertebrae are fused using a bone graft.
  • Posterior cervical decompression – tissue like a bulging disc is removed to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerves.
  • Cervical laminoplasty – bones in the neck are reshaped or repositioned to create more space for the spinal cord.
  • Cervical foraminotomy- bone or tissue that obstructs the nerve roots is removed.

Non-Surgical Treatments

Surgery isn’t the only way to heal a cervical spinal cord injury, nor is it the only way to help manage spinal cord pain. Those who have suffered from cervical spinal cord injuries may undergo various non-surgical treatments, including:

  • Physical therapy
  • At-home stretches
  • Medication therapy (through over-the-counter painkillers and/or prescription painkillers)
  • Steroidal injections
  • Mineral supplements
  • Neck braces

Can You Sue for Cervical Spinal Cord Injuries?

Yes, if you have suffered from a cervical spinal cord injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, you can file a personal injury lawsuit and sue for damages. To sue for a spinal cord injury, you must establish that another party is liable. This means proving that their actions (or inactions) directly caused your injury. A Chicago personal injury attorney can walk you through the process and ensure that the person responsible for your injury is held liable.

While some C5/C6 injuries can be minor, severe spinal injuries can lead to things like chronic pain, limited mobility, and, in severe cases, paralysis. In some cases, full spinal cord injury recovery isn’t possible. A Chicago paralysis attorney will ensure you receive fair compensation for all past and future damages, based on the severity of your injury.

Cervical Spinal Cord Injury Damages

If you have suffered from a cervical spinal column injury, you may be able to recover compensation for damages, such as: 

  • Medical expenses;
  • Lost wages;
  • Physical pain and suffering;
  • Counseling;
  • Physical and occupational therapy;
  • Loss of earning capacity;
  • Assistive medical equipment like mobility aids;
  • Home health care;
  • Loss of enjoyment of life;
  • Loss of consortium;
  • Average cost of the funeral, in the event of a wrongful death. If your loved one’s neck injury resulted in death, it’s crucial to contact a Chicago wrongful death attorney today.
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Call Chicago Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers at Curcio & Casciato Today

A cervical spinal cord injury can seriously alter a person’s life, causing irreparable damage to their body and their ability to function independently. When people suffer from spinal cord injuries as a result of a preventable accident, the person responsible for the accident should be held liable for their negligence.

If you or a close family member has suffered from a C5/C6 injury, speak to one of the legal professionals at Curcio & Casciato. Our Chicago back injury lawyers have years of experience handling serious injuries and recovering compensation on behalf of our clients, and we will fight hard to ensure you receive fair compensation for your losses.

Call us at (312) 321-1111 or contact us online and schedule a free initial case evaluation with a member of our expert team.

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