A Cervical Disc Herniation happens due to injury to the fibrous cushion between two vertebrae in the neck. Pain occurs when the tough outer layer of the disc develops a break, allowing the soft interior to seep out and put pressure on the spinal nerves. Cervical discs deteriorate as individuals age due to normal activity and can begin early in life. The inner region dries out over time, causing the outer ring to become fragile and more susceptible to damage. Cervical Disc Herniation is most common in people aged 30-50 and can occur with no warning. Individuals who have poor posture or a long history of tobacco use are at higher risk of developing the condition.
Symptoms of a cervical disc herniation are found primarily in the upper body, and include:
The difficulty with hand and arm coordination, as well as an awkward walking pattern, can indicate compression of the spinal cord at some level. If constant pain, weakness, and problems with bladder and bowel control are present, surgery may be necessary.
A physician may suspect cervical disc herniation after reviewing medical history, current symptoms and carrying out a thorough physical exam including a neurological evaluation. Additional testing such as an MRI, CT, CT myelogram, X-ray, and EMG will aid in confirming the condition.
Treatment for a cervical disc herniation starts with ice for the first 48 hours to control inflammation and medication for pain. Heat is applied next to loosen up muscles and improve blood flow. Physical therapy is then started, emphasizing gentle rehabilitative exercise and activity modification, with the possibilities of cervical traction or bracing available if needed. Chiropractic manipulation may also be beneficial. If pain has not been relieved, an epidural injection or nerve block is an option.
Most individuals recover from a cervical disc herniation in four to six weeks with conservative treatment. Symptoms lasting six to twelve weeks or longer causing significant pain and disability may need a surgical procedure such as laminotomy or an anterior or posterior discectomy.
If you suffer from a cervical disc herniation and would like to discuss the treatment options we provide, please call us at either our New Braunfels or Seguin offices.