A cervical disc herniation usually is caused by excessive stress placed on the spinal disc. This stress could be from heavy lifting when the spine is curved, or other damaging and jarring motions.
A visual representation of the condition can be seen on the image below.
Looking at how the spine is constructed with vertebrae bones that surround and protect the spinal cord, you will see in between the vertebrae are spongy cushions called disks.
Spinal discs absorb shock and provide flexibility within the spine. As we age, the spinal discs break down, and they become drier, less flexible, and more easily damaged.
Injury and prolonged overuse or misuse can speed the formation of tiny tears in a disc’s capsule.
A herniation is what happens when the disc between vertebral bones of the spine is weakened and bulges out into the spinal canal or nerve roots. The disks contain a gel-like substance in the center, while the outer part of a disk is made up of fibrous cartilage that keeps the gel contained.
This herniation pushes into the spinal canal or nerve roots and can cause severe pain and other problems in the neck and mid-back, as well as the arms and, or hands.
Symptoms of cervical herniated disc often include the following:
- Numbness or tingling in the shoulder, arm, or hands
- Pain that radiates down the arm to the hand or fingers
- Weakness of hand and or arms
There will also typically be movements or positions of the neck that can intensify the pain.
Often symptoms of a cervical herniated disc resemble other disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
In some cases, a cervical herniated disc can cause spinal cord compression, and in this situation, disc material pushes on the spinal cord. Spinal cord compression symptoms include:
- Awkward or stumbling gait
- Difficulty with fine motor skills in the hands and arms
- Tingling or “shock” type feelings down the torso or into the legs
A diagnostic evaluation of the disc issue is necessary in order to determine what course of care is most appropriate. In these situations, a proper evaluation will usually involve imaging with x-rays or MRI.
Many patients will improve with nonsurgical treatment. The goals of nonsurgical treatment are to reduce the irritation of the nerve from the herniated disc, relieve pain, and improve the physical condition of the patient.
This can be accomplished in the majority of herniated disc patients with an organized care program that often combines a number of treatment methods.
There are times where disc problems have progressed beyond what can be treated with Chiropractic techniques or even Atlas Orthogonal. We also offer the nonsurgical alternative of Spinal Disc Decompression.
Unfortunately, there are times that surgery is the only alternative for disc-related problems. In these situations, we will recommend several experienced surgeons for a procedure called a discectomy.
The goal of the surgery is to remove the portion of the disc that is pushing on the nerve.
After a surgery, a postoperative rehabilitation program of supervised physical activity is recommended to help you resume normal motion.