BPS 2: What are the Symptoms and Treatment Options for Cervical Herniated Disc?

Cervical herniated disc refers to a condition when the gel-like center of the cervical disc ruptures. It occurs due to a neck injury or trauma. Pain is felt when the inner core of the disk leaks out and touches against the adjacent spinal nerve.

The article will shed light on the cervical herniated disc. You will learn about the symptoms as well as the treatment options available for the condition.

What is a Cervical Herniated Disc?

Cervical herniated disc occurs when the herniated disc material leaks out and presses on a cervical nerve. This results in a pain that radiates along the nerve pathway from the neck down the arm. Apart from the pain, the individual also experiences a tingling sensation and numbness in the arm and the fingertips. In addition, the individual may feel muscle weakness.

The space available to nerves in the cervical spine is limited. As a result, even a small herniation of the cervical disk can result in serious pain. The pain is the most significant when the nerve becomes pinched due to a herniated disc for the first time.

What are the Symptoms of a Cervical Herniated Disc?

An individual can experience a variety of symptoms due to a cervical herniated disc. The symptoms can be experienced in the arm, neck, shoulders, hand, and fingers. The exact pain patterns depend on the location of the herniated disk.

The cervical spine is located around the vertebrae — a stacked building blocks in the spine. The vertebrae are numbered C1 to C7 from top to bottom. In a cervical herniation, the affected nerve is one that exits the spine at a particular level. At the C4-C5 level, for instance, the C5 nerve root is affected.

  • -A herniation at the C5 nerve root results in weakness in the deltoid muscle of the upper arm and slight shoulder pain. It does not usually result in tingling or numbness.
  • -A herniation of the C6 nerve root (at C5-C6 level) results in weakness in the bicep muscle of the upper arm as well as the wrist extensor muscles. Tingling and numbness can also be felt in the thumb area of the hand.
  • -A herniation at the C7 root (at C6-C7 level) results in pain in the triceps muscle of the upper arm along with the feeling of tingling and numbness that seems to radiate to the middle finger.
  • -The C8 nerve root (C7-T1) is located at the bottom of the neck where the cervical spine connects to the thoracic. Herniation at this location generally results in a weakness with the handgrip as well as a tingling and numbness that radiate to little finger.

Treatment Options for a Cervical Herniated Disc

Doctors initially prescribe anti-inflammatory medications (NSAID) such as Advil, Motrin, or Celebrex for pain relief. In case of medications do not help in resolving the pain, non-surgical treatment options are used such as:

  • -Activity modification
  • -Physical therapy
  • -Cervical traction
  • -Chiropractic manipulation
  • -Cervical collar or brace

Generally, the pain due to a cervical herniated disc tends to subside after a few weeks. However, in case the problem persists after a couple of weeks, surgery may be a recommended option. Common surgical treatment option for the cervical herniated disc include cervical artificial disc replacement, posterior cervical discectomy, and anterior cervical discectomy and spine fusion (ACDF).

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Robin BackPainExpert

Physiotherapists & Back Pain Expert

Twenty years ago I was lucky to survive a serious hockey injury. In a sport where big men zoomaround on hard ice and solid wood sticks are slung furiously, a difficult back injury is what every player fears.
It took a long time for me to climb back to a normal life. But when I did, I was determined to spend the rest of his life helping back pain victims everywhere.
As a physiotherapist and back pain expert I have treated thousands of patients over 20 years, built a respected back pain clinic, created the site BackPainSecrets.Com and authored the book “Back Pain Secrets.”
Learn more about me here.