C-6 SPINE HERNIATION...Need help..

Wow... Well a little history. I herniated my disc back in late September during BJJ training. Well, I never felt a pain so bad as much as this.. I went to the doctor, got an MRI, and sure enough, I had a herniation in my C6. Well, I had all the symptoms. Numbness coming down my neck to my elbow, and I lost ALL my tricep muscle on my right arm.

So I didnt train for 3 months, and it seemed that the pain completely went away. On a scale of 1-10, (10 bieng worst), at first, my pain was at 8-9. But by the third month my pain had gone down to 1-2 at all times. So I started training again, and Ive been training for 5 weeks now in BJJ....at first few weeks, I just had soreness in my neck, now I can feel the pain is coming back...because its starting again to get uncomfortable to sit at a cpu, or drive, and thats when the spine is compressed. I had another MRI done, when my pain was gone, but it still showed that the disc c6 was herniated, and it had not gone back into place.

I know people on here have had this same injury, so I have a few questions if you could help.

1. Why did the pain completely go away, and now its back? Im assuming the training caused the herniation to be aggravated? My confusion is that I got a second MRI done when I had ZERO pain, and it showed I still had the herniation, so why was there no pain at that time, but now there is? Should I ice this all the time?

2 Why is it unbearable to sit, and drive, but I have very little pain if i am standing and walking around.

3. Mentally this has all but crushed me. In BJJ training, I have lost so much of my strength from my chest, and triceps of my right side, that I feel worthless (im NOT fishing for compliments, as none of you know me). I can hardly do tricept extentions of 40 pounds (both hands), and I used to do 160. My bench has gone down from peak 405, to about 125 MAX now.

I had the same exact thing, over a year ago. I lost so much triceps strengh that I could not do 10 lb extensions with my right arm. I went back to training after 6 months and got reinjured, and have decided to retire from bjj. I also got very frustrated lifting weights because I was s o much weaker than before, it was very depressing. I recently started some boxing training, with some light sparring, and that seems to be ok. I will of course not want to spar too hard and risk a neck injury. The worst part was the depression and the inability to continue mma and bjj. The pain that you experience can be related to the disc pressing on a nerve, or even some ligament damage ifn the area, it is hard to say. For me, the worst pain was sitting and driving, being at the computer, at a restaurant. Standing and walking was fine, like you. Good luck, Howard

Why is standing and walking fine? Isnt that the same compression caused that sitting does?

I am not sure, it is probably a posture mechanism. I feel your pain.


I had the same injury at C6 in mid-November. I don't really
have any concrete answers to your questions, but have a few
things to offer.

1. I started going to a physical therapist about a month after
my MRI's and diagnosis. The PT is telling me that I need to
be completely symptom free for 4-6 weeks before doing
anything that my aggravate the injury. You may have started
back in BJJ too soon. As I understand it, the displacement of
the disc causes pressure on the nerve root. When you look
at one of those plastic models of the spine, the space where
the nerve comes out of the vertebrae is pretty tight. I would
imagine that the disc could be herniated enough to show up
on the MRI but how much it is actually impinging on the
nerve root and causing inflammation would vary.

2. I saw a chart at the PT's office that shows the amount of
stress placed on your spine in different positions. Slouching
in a chair was worst, followed by sitting, standing, laying
down, etc... I asked why sitting was worse than standing but
forgot the details of the explanation.

3. I agree that the mental depression is very hard. At my
worst I could only do a couple of push-ups and couldn't even
hold myself up on the dip bars. I am slowly coming to terms
with the idea that I might not be able to continue my MMA
training in the same way that I was. It's too early to tell for me.
A few weeks ago I thought I was almost better, then I hit the
heavy bag for a few rounds and things got worse. The PT
has suggested that I consider getting an epidural injection,
which is an injection of a steroid directly at the nerve root.
Nonetheless, I've learned enough about this injury to wonder
if this is the end of hard MMA training for me. An interesting
by-product of that has been that I've started to think about
doing other things in life that I couldn't do before because I
was training all the time. It's kind of like breaking up with a
girlfriend: first you're in denial that it is over, then you get
depressed, then you start to realize that you can meet other
girls. I don't know, that's how it's been for me anyways.

As for triceps and chest strength, I had good success using
Pavel's Greasing the Groove protocol. I would do a couple of
push-ups every hour or so throughout the day. I slowly
increased the number of push-ups in each set. My strength
has returned 100% now.

This injury is a bitch; good luck to you.

Man,,,, ya its very depressing how much muscle Ive lost. I weighed 197 before the injury and Im down to 182 now...And Ive probably lost a good portion of that weight in muscle. How is Physical therapy? What type of excersizes do you do for it? And do you ice it?

And Im in complete denial about stopping training again... I think Id just go into a big depression if I stopped.

"1. Why did the pain completely go away, and now its back?" The injury had gone through a period of no stress and it was beginning to heal. Then you got back to action and reaggravated it enough that it's back to impinging on the nerve. Keep in mind that pain is a poor indication of where or not you are fully healed. One of the problems with our bodies is that pain from an injury will go away long before the injury has fully healed. Just because there is no pain does not mean that the area has healed completely.

"My confusion is that I got a second MRI done when I had ZERO pain, and it showed I still had the herniation, so why was there no pain at that time, but now there is?" The MRI showed that it was still herniated, but different levels of herniation may or may not cause pain. On the opposite side of things you may have had the herniation for years before there was something that was just enough to push it over the edge and begin causing pain.

"Should I ice this all the time?" If it makes it feel better, then by all means ice it.

"Why is it unbearable to sit, and drive, but I have very little pain if i am standing and walking around?" The discs in our spine provide most of their cushioning because they are primarily made of water. When the water leaves the disc it shrinks and can allow for bone on bone contace. The discs are kind of like a sponge in the fact that motion will put increased pressure on the discs resulting in fluid being squeezed out of them. Then a return to the initial position makes for less pressure on the discs and they refill with fluid. The action of walking will put slight pressure on the discs every time you take a step, and this squeezes fluid out of the discs. Then when you unweight during walking the discs then soak up more fluid. This constans squeezing then refilling is part of what keeps the discs healthy. So, when you're walking you are putting the discs in a state that makes them have the most fluid and this makes for less pain. Sitting and driving are positions where there is minimal potential for this action to occur, so the discs just sit there and lose fluid and this makes for more pressure on the herniation which in turn makes for more pressure on the nerve.

Best in Health and Training, J. R.

Hello my fellow C-6 herniation pals! I think we are jumping to conclusions way too soon. From the research I have been doing, we can't expect to be even close to 100 percent for at least a year! This injury takes a looong time to heal.The Annulus is the outer ring that protrudes when a disc herniation takes place. The material that it is compossed of is not like a muscle or a tendon. It doesn't respond to the typical 6 to 8 week treatment that a tendon or ligament will respond to. Not to mention what the tendons and Ligaments themselves are doing while the injury is trying to heal. Yes I beleive we will need to modify our training for a period of time, but I think we really need to give some time before we write ourselves off from training. If you speak to anyone who has had any kind of disc problem (usually the lumbar is the most common), they will tell you the injury takes serious time. Ive been speaking with my Chiopractor about this injury in depth. He is very experienced with disc herniations of all types. My injury is progressing steadily, but I've accepted the fact that the next 6 to 8 months or so will be rehab time and I have adjusted my training accordingly. We have to just think of it as a modification period and work through it. Start off slow and increase the intensity and volume intelligently. I also can't stress enough the importance of iceing. For me it has been the key to keeping inflammation in check. I also think it has been greatly contributing to the healing process. I try to ice religiously 2 to 3 times a day. Especially after any kind of training. We can get through this injury. Don't be discouraged. Good luck to everyone, all the best in training.


Lets be realistic 90% of us with herniated discs will never heal enough to do MMA again ,its a fact..

It only takes 1 neck crank or someone to stack you and you will reinjury it again..

If you have pain still after 6 months then its become chronic..

MMA is tuff on healthy necks and not to talk about injured necks..

Discouraging comment. Straight to Tai Chi for me I suppose.

Actually I agree with Donmega... One neck crank could seriously injure me so I will not compete in any more BJJ tournaments. Only train.

Great thread with all the same condition. Think about light boxing and sparring, It is a lot of fun, great exercise, and great for techniques. A lot of great advice in the above threads! I really miss BJJ, but I feel I was lucky to avoid the knife. I still get depressed sith the tricep weakness, though I think that after a year it is actually coming back. Good luck,all

Howardo, glad to hear your tricep is finally returning. You must have had some pretty substantial nerve damage. What did your Neurologist say about it when you had the injury? How long were you out with neck pain when it happened?


I had pain for a month or so, my neurosurgeon told me that rest and time would work, and he was right. Boy, nothing like trying to bench and not being able to do 150 becuse your one arm has no triceps! I have not lifted in awhile because it was so depressing, I should test it out and see how much strengh has returned. At one point my left arm was 16 inches, right arm 14.5, all becuse of the triceps

That's awesome. I realize that you were quite against rolling, but now that the tricep has returned and you are primarily symptom free, have you considered starting back rolling really light? Or do you find that your confidence is so far gone that you never will return to any kind of grappling sparring?


I think about it everyday. My big problem is that I am 42, in solo practice, and if I get a serious injury I would miss a lot of work and I have a large family to take care of. But I still think about it, and may try with only certain opponents. It is funny htugh, it is hard for guys to go light, even if we want to. It is that testosterone thing, so we will see.

Good luck to you Howard.


Thanks a lot

howardo, man its a trip. I have the same injury as you, and my right arm is 1.2 inches smaller than my left. The tricep has died so much. let me ask you if you have a similiar occurence as me.

Try flexing your right chest muscle VERY VERY hard. When you do it, does it become so tight and pull, similiar to a calf cramp? Same thing with your right tricep?

I just tried it, and no. But my injury is over 1 year old now. I have read many threads about this injury, it is really common. My atrophied triceps makes me want to cry. At one point, I could not lift my shirt over my head with my right arm. My neurosurgeon said that it is a good idea to repeat the mri after a year to see if it has healed and to make sure that there is no spinal cord impingement. I plan on doing that soon, I guess. God, I miss choking people out so bad!