Disc herniation is a condition which causes the intervertebral disc to bulge beyond the original space as a result of a damage or tear in the fibrous ring that contains it. This results from trauma to the spine, injuries caused by lifting and some idiopathic causes. This condition is sometimes referred to as “slip disc”. The tear in the fibrous ring results in inflammatory response that results in pain even without compressing the nerve root.
Disc herniation can occur in all parts of the spine such as in the cervical, thoracic or lumbar area. Herniation in the cervical disc or in the neck occurs between the fifth and sixth or the sixth and the seventh cervical spine. Herniated disc in the neck results in symptoms that extend to the adjacent areas such as the skull, shoulder, neck, scapula and even the arm and hands.
Causes of Herniated Disc in Neck
Reasons for cervical disc herniation include any trauma to the cervical spine such as a whiplash injury and blunt trauma to the area. There is also a genetic predisposition in the occurrence of disc herniations. Mutations in the genes that are responsible for regulation of the extracellular matrix in the spine have been observed.
Symptoms of Herniated Disc in Neck
Some patients do not experience any symptoms of disc herniation especially when the disc is the only structure injured. Patients with affectations of adjacent spinal structure may experience manifestations. Symptoms of cervical disc herniation include:
Pain at the back of the neck, may be mild to severe and is continuous
Arm pain because of pressure on the cervical nerve that cause pain to radiate down the arm
Numbness and paresthesia (tingling sensation) on the arms
Muscle weakness in the arm and hands
Paralysis of the arms when nerve roots become severely compressed
Symptoms are usually felt on only one side of the body. When the herniation is very large, it can result to bilateral occurrence of symptoms.
Management of Herniated Disc in Neck
Management for cervical disc herniation involves medical, supportive and sometimes orthopedic management. These include:
Medications. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen are prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation. In cases of severe herniation and in patients who do not respond with NSAIDs, oral steroids are given to help reduce inflammation.
Physical Therapy. Physical therapy and exercise is employed to helve reduce muscle spasms in the surrounding areas.
Chiropractic Managements. Gentle manipulation is also done to bring back the normal joint function of the neck, something that Dr. Mohr, you Tampa chiropractor, as experience with.
Cervical Traction. Traction helps in reducing pressure on the compressed nerves and allows the herniation to go back in its original position.
Activity modification. Avoiding activities that exacerbate the condition should be instituted. These activities include those that further injure the cervical area such as boating, running and high impact sports. Activities that require over extension and rotation of the neck should also be avoided.
Cervical disc herniation is a serious condition because it may lead to paralysis of areas below the injury. It is important to prevent injury to the cervical spine to avoid occurrence of such. Aerobic exercises and stretching exercises should be employed to increase flexibility of the neck muscles, thereby preventing injury to the spine.