Cervical Herniated Disc

Cervical Herniated Disc

Also known as slipped disc, cervical herniated disc is a condition in which the inner part of the intervertebral disc overlaps into the spinal canal.

What is a Cervical Herniated Disc?

  • Disc herniation occurs when the tougher outer-part of a vertebral disc weakens, allowing the inner soft tissue to bulge or seep out. The soft tissue may press against or pinch a nerve, causing radiating and often intense pain.
  • Herniated discs in the neck area are called cervical herniated disc. Although not as common as lumbar (lower back) herniated discs, cervical herniated discs may cause similar symptoms like pain, numbness, or tingling sensations.
  • Some symptoms of cervical herniated discs mimic other medical disorders like gout and carpal tunnel syndrome. Radiating pain down the arms to the fingers, limited range of motion, and numbness are all related symptoms.

What causes it?

Cervical herniated discs may happen suddenly or progress over a short or long period of time. Common causes for herniation include whiplash of the neck, quick jerking of the head, improper lifting, or from similar spinal conditions like degenerative disc disease.

Lifestyle choices such as smoking, obesity, and lack of exercise may put you at higher risk for a cervical disc herniation. Also, aging may weaken your body’s cartilage, causing a lack of protein and water, and making vertebral discs susceptible to herniation.

Once trauma occurs and the outer band of the vertebral disc bulges or ruptures, the inner jelly-like substance can compress against a spinal nerve, or worse, the spinal cord. The most common symptoms of cervical disc herniation include: dull or throbbing pain in the neck, upper back, or between the shoulders, and numbing of or shooting pain down the upper extremities.

If the disc compresses against the spinal cord, more severe symptoms like limited arm, hand, and finger motor skills, difficulty walking, and sharp radiating pain.

How do you treat it?

Many cervical herniated discs go undetected for a while before symptoms start occurring, if at all. Most cervical herniated discs may be treated with non-surgical methods. Some common treatments include: hot and cold compresses on the neck, rest, mild physical therapy, pain and anti-inflammatory medication, and massages.

Conservative methods of treatment usually heal a cervical disc herniation around 4 to 6 weeks. Surgery may be recommended if treatments do not successfully relieve pain and heal the cervical disc herniation, or if the spinal cord is afflicted.

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