The spinal cord is a thin long, tubular structure that encloses the central canal of the spine that contains the cerebrospinal fluid. The spinal cord is divided into 5 segments based on its functions – cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral and coccyx. The cervical region comprises 7 vertebrae from C1 – C7 which are present in the neck. The nerves arising from C1 – C7 mostly supply the upper body including the neck, shoulders, hands and fingers. The nerves that are present at C6 – C7 levels control the muscles that help to move your fingers and also move the muscles of your triceps. These muscles also help to straighten the elbow. A herniated disc between the vertebrae of this region can be painful. It can also affect your motor skills in the region of the neck, the upper hand, and arm. There can also be a total loss of movement.(1,2)
C6-C7 disc herniation can be an extremely painful condition. However, it can be successfully treated in several ways. Medicines and drugs can be given to you by your doctor with a combination of some exercises for C6-C7 disc herniation.(3) These exercises help to strengthen your muscles and improve the pain with passing time.
Exercises for C6 – C7 Disc Herniation
Some very simple yet effective exercises can make a world of a difference to improve issues related to C6 and C7 disc herniation. Let us take a look at them.
Tuck Your Chin Exercise for C6-C7 Disc Herniation: This is one of the simplest and most popularly prescribed exercises that are recommended by the doctors for the treatment of C6 and C7. These exercises can be done in many positions. This will depend on the level of your injury and also the extent of the rehabilitation that must be brought about. It is best to do this exercise while you are in a seated position. Sit back on a chair in a position that is most comfortable for you and then place your fingers on the front side of your chin. Now slowly try and bring your chin backward away from the touch of the fingers. All this while you do not look down and do not drop your head. Hold the position for ten seconds and the release. Perform this exercise for ten cycles in a day.(4)
Standing Chin Tuck Exercise for C6-C7 Disc Herniation: Herniated C6 and C7 gets worsened due to poor posture of the spinal cord and can make the herniation worse. To prevent these, exercises must be done that will improve the posture of the spine. This will help to strengthen the muscles of the spine and will also reduce the pain in the region of the neck and spine. For this exercise, stand straight with your feet together and hang your hands on both sides. Bring your shoulders up and then again roll them back and down. Next, squeeze the shoulders together in a gentle manner. Breathe deeply all this while. While doing these exercises do the chin tuck. Do the exercise for two to three times.(4)
Neck Rotation Exercise: You can do this exercise in any type of posture – whether sitting, standing, or even while lying down. Neck rotations are one of the best ways through which you can improve the mobility of the neck. To begin with, look straight ahead and then clasp both your hands so that you cannot move your shoulders. Turn your head to the right and then to the left so that your chin touches the right and the left shoulder. Perform the exercise so that you can feel the stretch. On each side hold the position for ten to thirty seconds.(3)
One of the best ways to improve C6 and C7 disc herniation is through maintaining a proper sitting posture throughout the day. At work, be sure to take breaks every forty-five minutes to one hour and take a gentle stroll. While being seated, adjust the back of your chair so that your spine is in a straight position. The height of your chair should be such that your feet comfortably rest on the floor. The height of the keyboards must be kept at such a level where your shoulders are relaxed and the elbows are bent at a degree slightly greater than ninety degrees. Maintain straight wrists while typing.(5,6)
- O’Riordan C, Clifford A, VanDeVen P, Nelson J. Chronic neck pain and exercise interventions: frequency, intensity, time, and type principle. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2014; 95(4):770-83.
- Haldeman S, Carroll L, Cassidy JD, Schubert J, Nygren A. The Bone and Joint Decade 2000-2010 Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders: executive summary. Spine. 2008;33(4 Suppl): S5-7.
- Gray JC, Grimsby O. Interrelationship of the spine, rib cage, and shoulder. In: Donatelli RA. Physical Therapy of the Shoulder. 5th ed. London: Churchill Livingstone; 2012: 87-130.
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