Neck injury

I ruptured my C - 5 C - 6 two weeks ago and the MRI also showed cord deformity. The orthopedic surgeon I see said this could the end of my Jiu Jitsu career due to the numbness and loss of strength in my right arm. It's been 15 days since I got cranked unexpectedly by a newbie and I've been taking pain killers every six hours since. He prescribed rest,anti-inflammatories,steroids,physical therapy and treatment to see if the inflammation around the nerve will go down before he points me toward the neuro-surgeon.

My question is: Has anyone out there continued to roll after recovering from a severe neck/back injury? I LOVE BJJ but quality of life is much more important than possibly being in pain for the long haul. Any input would be appreciated.

Wow, that sounds like some real bad times. Sorry to hear that. I was in a bad car crash in 2002 which messed up my lower back and I had to leave the mats for 8 months. After that there were drills and some moves I couldn't do becauseI still had pain. Even after PT I still had problems walking a block without sitting down from the pain. Progressively I have done my PT and strengthened what I have to, my abs, glutes, and legs and now something has to really go wrong for it to bother me these days. It took under a year to be back on the mat and a few years to be absolutely 100%, I can only hope the same for you. Good luck.

I had/have multiple bulging disks including the C5 and C6, but never went as far as rupturing them. I had to take time off when it was bad (I also lost strength in an arm and had numbness/tingling). Occasionally, I still have to take it easy when they flare up. Fortunately, I'm 100% except for the occasional flare up. It's just a question of me listening to my body and taking it easy when necessary.

I have a bulging disc C5-C6 and arthritis in the rest of my cervical discs. I have been fighting it since 2000. I try to train smart, but sometimes I cause it to flare up. I take massive amounts of ibuprofen and naproxen and rest it until it feels ok again. It's a never ending cycle. I recently had a cycle of anti-inflam steriods and took two months off because I was getting the numbness in my right arm.

It feels great now and I am going back to BJJ next month. I have been hitting the bags, lifting, and cardio in the meantime. My neuro Dr said he will try traction, physical therapy, and direct steroid injections if the pain and numbness come back. If that doesn't work then it's either surgery or give up BJJ.

My biggest thing now is to train smart. I no longer fight out of head locks, no neck cranks, and if it starts to hurt I take a break from training and rest it. I was training through the pain until it hurt so bad it sidelined me. It's a big ego check but I have to do it.

One thing that helps me a lot, if my neck feels stiff after a class, I ice it for 20 minutes, take it off for 20 minutes, then ice it again for 20 minutes. Then the next few days I keep a heat rub on it (I like Capsacian HP). That plus NSAIDS seems to do the trick.

But then again, mine are not ruptured so your mileage may vary.

disc injuries to the neck will happen from bjj. the only thing that works in terms of treatment is to stop entirely.

PT, traction, chiro, osteo, whatever all have varying degrees of success.

i've tried them all and they all had their place in terms of treatment.

the only things that really worked was rest and an injection into the disc.

i have my injury under control now, but i won't compete again as the risk is far greater then any rewards.

it will be a lifelong injury that you have to take care of.

surgery is most probably inevitable if you persist in training.

I hurt my neck pretty bad and still roll.  I'm flexible and tolerated too many neck cranking type moves too far and one day I rolled over backward kind of funny and really hurt my neck bad.

I had C5-6 and 6-7 herniated with minor cord deformity and some stenosis.  After years of therapy and some different procedures (cortico steroid injections and nucleoplasty) I had the levels fused in Jan of 2005.  I roll pretty hard now.  But I still am careful.  I took it real slow coming back.  And as mentioned above you must sometimes tap to headlocks/neck cranks if someone goes crazy for them.  I try to roll with them in mind though and avoid putting my neck at risk.

I still use pt, massage, ART as needed and also ibuprofen if it hurts.  I limit posting on my head and hard takedown training also as it's unpredictable and with the gi you can end up landing on your head.

My neck and back are screwed up from BJJ and will never be right. It makes it hard to play with my kids a lot of days. Don't take these injuries lightly!

scrappy - I'm gonna hit you up with a PM to ask about your surgery.

Herniated C6/7 and bulging c5/6 in 2002. As stated above I still train and compete. Have to REALLY listen to your body and rest when it flares up though.

It flared up again recently and I was getting myself mentally ready for surgery if needed.

Had a recent MRI (2weeks ago) - C6/7 has been reduced to bulging (no longer herniated) and c5/6 is still bulging but nothing is impinging near the cord. NO cord deformity that area is clear. Doc says NO need for surgery and I will be able to still compete in BJJ- no need for surgery.

Still have some occassional tingling but Medrol Dose Pack, PT, traction and capascin have helped ALOT.

Best of luck.

Another: -

read them all...then drop me a note if you like. cheers.

hey guys.....glad to see this topic come up. I originally got injured 10 yrs. ago from a neck crank(we were white belts and did'nt know better). I kept training until last yr. when the pain got so bad I had to see doc. MRI indicated severe bone spurring and disc disease at c-5,6 and c-6,7. I also have stenosis at other levels, but not serious. I had two level fusion and resumed training at nine months. Pain returned and x-ray showed non-fusion at c5,6. Now I must get posterior fusion, which has a high success rate. I know it might be crazy to do BJJ again, but I really grew to love it and was close to getting black belt. However, I don't want to ever go through this again! On the positive side, my pain is not terrible and I have almost complete normal strength. Would like to hear if guys come back from this and train without further injuries......good luck to everyone


I re-aggravated my herniated disc, while weight lifting, to the point of pain in my neck, pain in my upper right arm, and numbness to my right hand. I am in week three of six weeks of physical therapy, three days a week. I am doing much better. The pain is almost all gone to the point that I am not taking as many otc pain relievers, but I still have occasional numbness in my arm and hand throughout the day. I have not been able to train at all. I teach BJJ and I have only been demonstrating and then watching. It drives me crazy to be there and not be able to train.

My PT routine is:

Heat and tens unit, cervical traction, ultrasound, message, and then some light resistance band exercises. I actually feel great afterwards but that feeling wears off :)

If this doesn't work, I see surgery in my near future. My Dr. said it will be a simple case, trim the bulge, screw in a plate and I am home free. I have a friend that had the exact same surgery, same doctor, and he is completely satisfied and said he should have had the surgery sooner. I am still scared of it.

I want to train. Before this latest bout I was doing BJJ twice a week, striking in my garage gym, weights three times a week, and even doing escrima sometimes. Now I am just sitting around and getting fat.

I have 2 herniated discs C5-C6 and C6-C7 ,some bone spurs,partially torn ligaments and muscles in my neck since year 2000 so a lot of scar tissue from partially torn lig and mus... + L5-S1 disc bulge in the back but thats another story..

Took me 2,5 years of physiotherapy to get back ..
This is a chronic injury and you have to learn to live with it..

69 - i continued to roll pretty hard after those 2,5 years...but you have to listen to your body.
I must have had 500 neck spasms since rolling.

Since 2 weeks agoo im having arm pain and weakness
Right now im having arm pain and weakness,neck and arm pain ,its scary shit when you are not able to carry 2 pounds with your arm...
The best advice is to Rest Rest and Rest.....

You can have 2 guys have an MRI and MRI showing exactly the same thing but the other guys pain is 100% worse...

Im having my third MRI this monday.

There are many positions you have to avoid when rolling.
Find a partner who you can trust adn train with him when better.

Furacao - Do you or did you have arm pain and weakness from the neck?


 I am 6 weeks out from a ruptured disc w/ nerve and  cord compression at l5 s1level had a second mri confirmed it got worse. done because now I have numbness in both legs i am doing everything poss. but I fear if this gets worse Ill have to have surgery. I feel for you. they told me if i start losing control of my bowel or bladder then it will not have a choice

I recently suffered an acute injury on my neck. I had tightness and pain on the left side of my neck and the symptoms were worse when I turned my head or tilted my head to the left. I also had nerve pain occasionally shooting down my arm when I shrugged my left shoulder or turned my head.

I actually took pics of myself when I suffered this injury. I then used corrective exercises to fix the problem and took pics 8 days later.

I put the 2 pics on a Microsoft Word file with some captions. I wanted to show this because the pics clearly show how messed up my neck was and what was wrong, but what is shown is not something that doctors or physio's even analyze (at least every MD or PT I've ever been to never did). The pics may offer a different perspective on viewing injuries. If you're interesting in checking out the pics, e-mail me at and I'll send it over.

over a year has passed since i was in a pretty bad car accident, 2 slipped discs in my neck and 2 in my back, if you want to know what works out there you need to Find LOW LIGHT LEVEL LASER therapy, google it im telling you this works, if you need more info contact me at
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Wow glad I found this thread thought I was alone.

I got my MRI today (very first ever) and I got 3 herniated discs and some degenerative arthritis in my AC joint and some tear in my Labrum. I feel no pain just some slight discomfort on my right shoulder.

Totally sucks don't know how long I will be out. I already missed 2 months now who knows.

Hi guys. I have regular neck spasms but have never had any weakness in my arms... Actually, my neck has been better lately but still have problems with it. My question is: has anyone tried a head gear (with some weights) to developp neck strength. I'm really trying to avoid getting it worse.