Herniated Cervical Disc
A person experiencing severe to moderate pain in their neck with weaknesses in their arms or pain in their shoulder might be affected by a herniated cervical disc. The pain may be worsened by sneezing or coughing. This is a disorder that affects the spine in the neck region.
What are Cervical Discs?
The spine is made up of bones that are also known as vertebrae. The bones are not flexible but the spine or backbones have to be to allow people to bend freely while at the same maintaining rigidity when required. This flexibility is attributed to the discs that are found between the vertebrae. The discs act as pads or cushions between the back vertebrae. They are composed of a gel-like substance contained within a membrane.
Sometimes problems occur and the disc's outer membrane gets damaged or worn and it may end up rupturing and prolapsing into the spinal column where the spinal nerve is contained. Not only does this affect flexibility but it also causes other problems. This gel is seen as a bulge or herniation hence the name herniated cervical disc. The hernia then presses against or touches the spinal nerve which then in turn causes the several symptoms associated with it's compression.
If the herniation occurs in the cervical or neck region then it is referred to as herniated cervical disc. This kind of herniation can occur at any of the spaces between the cervical vertebrae that are found within the neck region, which are C1, C2, C3, C4, C5, C6 and C7.
Causes of Herniated Cervical Disc
Trauma to the cervical discs can compromise the integrity of the outer disc membrane allowing them to loose some of the gel-like material. Trauma causes cracks or small tears on the outer layer of the disc which can then act as outlets to the gel-like substance allowing it into the spinal space. Others causes of a herniated cervical disc include the patient's age and the associated wear and tear of the cervical discs. An aged disc will loose some of its strength in the outer lining causing a prolapse. Incorrect posture can also put a strain of the cervical disc spaces eventually causing cervical disc herniation.
Symptoms of Herniated Cervical Disc
Most symptoms are not local to the specific location of the herniation. Symptoms are normally associated with the compression of the spinal nerve. These include radiating pain down the hand with can be associated with tingling or numbness in specific fingers. The symptoms depend on the severity of the herniation and location of the hernia. A herniated cervical disc can also cause a person to feel weak in the vicinity of their neck, shoulder and chest. In some extreme cases weakness can be felt all the way down to the legs. This is due to the broadness of the spinal nerves function areas.
Doctors may recommend physical therapy to help resolve the associated pain coupled with a regime of medications to relive the inflammation and irritation of the compressed nerve. In a few of the cases surgery is recommended to remove the disc or the herniated portion. Either way retraining of good posture is essential to avoid re-injury and another herniated cervical disc.
If you're interested in more info you can read about lower back pain here.