An accident or other major trauma that causes a traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury can be devastating. Even a minor accident can leave a person with debilitating injuries due to a spinal cord injury. Whiplash is one of the most common neck injuries that, in severe cases, can damage the spinal cord. Whiplash and spinal cord injuries can affect the C5/C6 vertebrae and can lead to chronic pain and even paralysis.
You could be entitled to compensation if you’ve been injured in an accident and suffered from C5/C6 injuries. For over 40 years, the attorneys at Bailey, Johnson & Peck, P.C. have been representing Albany residents in personal injury cases, motor vehicle accidents, and more. If you’re looking for the best legal representation for your C5/C6 injury claim, call the Albany spinal cord injury attorneys today at 518-456-0082.
Where Are the C5 and C6 Vertebrae?
The C5 and C6 are two of the seven bones that make up the cervical spine. The cervical spine, AKA the neck area, is one of the three areas that make up the spinal column. The other spinal sections are the thoracic spine, which is located in the upper and middle area of the back, and the lumbar spine is the lower backbone area.
The cervical spinal canal consists of more than just the seven cervical vertebrae. Various nerves, muscles, tendons, and ligaments surround the cervical spine as well. Every two vertebrae have an intervertebral disc between them which allows flexibility along the neck. The discs also absorb any stress or shock, protecting the neck when we perform activities like walking and running.
In addition to the intervertebral discs, the C5 and C6, along with the rest of the vertebrae, all consist of a vertebral body, vertebral arch, multiple nerve roots, and two vertebral processes. Each part of the cervical spinal cord works together to make the neck move smoothly.
What Do the C5 and C6 Vertebrae Do?
Every bone in the body serves a purpose. In the cervical spine, the C5 vertebrae are responsible for the following:
- Supporting the head.
- Moving the head side to side, up, and down.
- Protecting the spinal cord.
An injury to the C5 vertebrae can be fatal as many nerves between the C3 and C5 control a person’s breathing. Injuries that affect the area above the C5 can also lead to quadriplegia, paralysis from the neck down, and extending to all four extremities.
Similar to the C5, the C6 vertebrae are also responsible for helping move the head, supporting the head, and protecting the spinal cord. The C6 and the rest of the vertebrae below house the nerves responsible for providing motor functions and sensations to the arms and legs. An injury to the C6 vertebrae or below can lead to paraplegia, which is the complete paralysis of the lower abdomen and legs.
C5 and C6 Nerves and What They Do
The human body’s spinal column is an intricate network of nerves that are responsible for all bodily functions. When a person is injured along the spinal column, the results can be catastrophic. Any nerve damage stemming from a spinal cord injury can lead to life-altering consequences, including complete or partial paralysis.
There are eight pairs of spinal nerve roots that stem from the vertebrae along the cervical spine. The spinal nerve roots extend from the vertebrae through the intervertebral foramen, which are small openings between each pair of vertebrae. These eight pairs of spinal nerves are responsible for organ functions and movement within the upper body. The lower you travel along the central nervous system, you’ll find the nerves that control the lower portions of the body.
Each pair of nerves is labeled like the vertebrae, C1, C2, etc. The C5 cervical nerve roots control the body’s deltoid and bicep muscles. The C6 also helps control movements in the biceps. In addition to controlling the biceps, the C6 cervical nerve roots also control the wrist extensor muscles and the thumbs.
Common Causes of C5 and C6 Injuries
Car accidents commonly cause cervical spinal cord injuries. When involved in a car accident, nothing protects our neck and spine from the impact of the other motor vehicle. This can often cause whiplash, which occurs when the neck is moved back and forth. A person involved in a minor car accident can still sustain injuries to the cervical spine.
The C5 and C6 vertebrae can also become injured from bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, motorcycle accidents, sports injuries, slip and fall accidents, truck accidents, ski accidents, overall wear and tear, chiropractor malpractice, and bad posture.
Common C5 and C6 Injuries
Injuries to the C5 and C6 cervical spine can be caused by a minor event like bad posture, to something more significant like a car accident. The most common types of C5 and C6 cervical spinal cord injuries are:
- Disc Herniation: Our necks carry a lot of weight, so even years of sitting at a desk with bad posture can lead to C5 and C6 injuries. These two vertebrae are susceptible to neck pain and disc herniation, also known as a bulging disc, caused by poor posture like slouching or pushing the neck too far out. You don’t have to be in a major accident to suffer from C5 and C6 injuries.
- C5 and C6 Vertebrae Fracture: Vertebral fractures are extremely common in the C5 and C6 vertebrae. In fact, a 2011 study found that C6 fractures make up 20% of vertebrae fractures, and 15% affect the C5 vertebrae. These types of fractures are often caused by whiplash or other physical trauma to the neck.
- Cervical Spondylosis: This spinal cord injury is also referred to as cervical osteoarthritis and occurs when the spinal vertebrae and discs begin to deteriorate. Those suffering from cervical spondylosis usually experience neck pain, but some may not notice any symptoms. Certain cases of cervical spondylosis can cause bone spurs to form along the vertebrae leading to spinal stenosis, which is the narrowing of the spinal canal.
- Cervical Scoliosis: When the cervical section of the spine has an extreme curve, you could be suffering from cervical scoliosis. Most individuals have a slight bend in their spine, which helps support the head. However, when the spine curves too much, you could suffer from pain, poor mobility, and permanent tilting of the head position. The only way to treat cervical scoliosis is with spinal surgery and braces.
If you’ve suffered a cervical fracture or spinal cord injury from an accident caused by another’s negligence, you could be entitled to financial compensation. To discuss your case with an Albany spinal cord injury attorney, contact Bailey, Johnson & Peck, P.C. today.
Treatments for C5/C6 Injuries
In order to adequately treat your acute spinal cord injury, your doctor will perform a series of tests, like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and other diagnostic image testing, in addition to performing a physical exam. In some cases, your doctor may order neurological testing as well.
Patients suffering from C5 and C6 injuries most commonly experience pain which is why most doctors will begin treatment with NSAIDs, like ibuprofen, steroids, or opioids, depending on the severity of the pain. If disc or vertebrae degeneration is suspected, your doctor may also prescribe supplements that increase bone strength, like calcium and Vitamin D.
Another non-surgical treatment for a C5 and C6 cervical spinal cord injury is physical therapy. Therapeutic stretching and exercising can help increase the range of mobility along your neck, manage spinal cord pain, and strengthen your neck. Depending on your spinal cord injuries, your physical therapist may also suggest a neck brace to help heal your neck before you begin therapy.
Your doctor may also recommend steroid injections for your spinal injuries. Steroid injections are a popular treatment option for those avoiding surgery. During this treatment process, your doctor will inject the steroids into the neuroforamen of the cervical spine or the facet joints. If you’re suffering from a bulging disc, your doctor will likely recommend steroid injections since they reduce swelling and inflammation.
If non-surgical treatments aren’t offering you any relief from your C5 and C6 injuries, several surgical options are available.
- Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Spinal Fusion: The C5/C6 discs are replaced with a bone graft that fuses together the two vertebrae. Following this procedure, the patient should experience less pain due to pressure being relieved from the spinal cord and pinched nerves.
- Cervical Artificial Disc Replacement: This surgical procedure is similar to the one above, where the degenerated cervical disc is removed and replaced with an artificial one.
- Posterior Cervical Decompression: The surgeon will create an incision at the back of the neck to remove a portion of the bulging disc.
- Foraminotomy: During this procedure, extra bone in the intervertebral foramen will be removed in order to relieve pressure off the spinal cord nerves.
- Laminectomy: Depending on which vertebrae are causing the patient issues will determine which vertebrae will be removed during this procedure. Removing the C5 or C6 vertebral arch can relieve spinal cord pressure.
- Laminoforaminotomy: This surgical procedure is a combination of a foraminotomy and a laminectomy. Like the others, it’s performed to relieve pressure from a pinched cervical nerve.
Can You Sue for a C5/C6 Injury?
After you’ve sought medical treatment for your C5/C6 injury, it’s essential to reach out to a personal injury attorney if you believe the accident was not your fault. Any type of vertebral fracture or spinal cord injury from an accident can lead to medical bills and other expenses stemming from your injury. In addition to medical costs, you may have to miss work during your recovery, which can lead to lost wages, leaving you in a dire financial situation.
Albany personal injury attorneys at Bailey, Johnson & Peck, P.C. will discuss the accident with you and the injuries you sustained. If it’s determined that you have the grounds to pursue legal action, our attorneys will be with you every step of the way.
Spinal Injury Damages
Albany spinal cord attorneys at Bailey, Johnson & Peck, P.C. will help you obtain the following damages for your C5/C6 injuries.
- Past and future medical expenses
- Physical therapy
- Mobility aids, like wheelchairs, canes, and walkers
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Home health or other assistive services
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
Call Albany Personal Injury Lawyers at Bailey, Johnson & Peck Today
Accidents causing traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury can be devastating. Not only can they result in life-altering injuries, but they can also leave you overwhelmed with medical bills and other expenses. If you’ve been injured in an accident that caused damage to the C5/C6 vertebrae, you deserve financial compensation for your injuries.
Albany personal injury attorneys at Bailey, Johnson & Peck, P.C. have experience handling spinal cord injury cases and are ready to represent you. Let us work to recover compensation for your injuries so you can focus on your spinal cord injury recovery. Call the Albany personal injury attorneys today at 518-456-0082 to schedule a free initial consultation.