Cervical Disc Herniation

Cervical Disc Herniation

Cervical disc herniation is a relatively common condition that can result in arm or neck pain. This condition is caused when there’s an issue with one of the discs that sits between your vertebrae in your cervical spine or neck. These discs are made up of two different substances.

The center of your disc is called the nucleus and is comprised of a gelatin-like substance. The outer portion of the disc is called the annulus and it surrounds the nucleus with a tough, rubber-like substance. When the nucleus pushes its way through a tear or opening in the annulus, it results in a herniated or ‘slipped’ disc. 

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A disc herniation in the neck is less common than a herniated disc in the lower back, or lumbar area.  When a herniated disc occurs in the neck region, it can irritate or put pressure on the nearby spinal cord and nerve roots. This can lead to pain, numbness, or muscle weakness in your arm or hand, depending on where the affected disc is located.

What causes a cervical disc herniation? 

Cervical disc herniation is most commonly caused by disc degeneration, a gradual and age-related condition which is attributed to the normal wear-and-tear our bodies undergo as we get older. As we get older, our spinal discs become less flexible and are more at risk of rupturing or tearing due to normal everyday activities. Other causes of cervical disc herniation include injury or trauma.

Symptoms of cervical disc herniation

A lot of people who have a herniated cervical disc won’t experience any symptoms at all. When symptoms present themselves, it’s usually due to disc bulging or disc material spilling into the spinal canal. Most discomfort from a herniated disc is caused by the compression or inflammation of a nearby nerve root or the spinal cord.

When a nerve root is compressed, symptoms may include: 

  • Sharp or burning pain in your shoulder or arm
  • Neck pain
  • Neck stiffness
  • Tingling or numbness 
  • Muscle weakness

If the spinal cord is compressed, symptoms may also include:

  • Difficulties with performing tasks with your hands which require fine motor skills
  • Issues with walking or balancing
  • Bladder or bowel impairment/dysfunction (only in severe cases)

The specific symptoms of a herniated cervical disc are largely dependent on where the affected disc is located. Sometimes certain movements or motions will cause the symptoms to flare-up or worsen. Usually the symptoms from a herniated cervical disc are contained to one side of your body. 

Frequently Asked Questions

A herniated cervical disc is diagnosed through reviewing your medical history, a physical exam and MRI.

The symptoms caused by disc herniation will resolve in the majority of patients. If the symptoms are persistent and severe for several months despite adequate non-operative treatment, you may be a candidate for surgery.

This will depend on the procedure and may be as early as 2 to 4 weeks.

Receive the care you need right away

Horizon Surgical can expedite your minimally invasive spine surgery to be done in a timely fashion. From beginning to end, you can typically receive your minimally invasive spine surgery within a couple months. With our reduced recovery times, you’ll be able to get back to living your life and doing what you love most right away.

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