What is Cervical Disc Herniation?
Cervical disc herniation occurs when a cervical disc (located in the neck) presses on a nerve, causing pain to radiate down the arm and also occasionally causing tingling, numbness or weakness. The extent of the symptoms depends on how much compression of the nerve occurs and the location of the pain depends on the disc that is herniated.
What causes Cervical Disc Herniation?
Cervical disc herniation can occur due to an injury or trauma to the neck, but it can also arise without any specific incident or injury.
What are the symptoms of Cervical Disc Herniation?
The symptoms of cervical disc herniation include pain that may be felt in the neck, between the shoulder blades, or most often radiating down the arm into the hand and fingertips. The pain may be sharp or dull and may be associated with tingling or numbness in the arm or shoulder, as well as muscle spasm or weakness. Moving the neck in specific positions may increase the amount of pain that is felt. In some cases, the herniated disc can cause compression of the spinal cord, resulting in more serious symptoms such as difficulty with fine motor skills, gait problems, or a tingling feeling running through the torso or legs. There are some cases of cervical disc herniation that produce no symptoms at all. The location of symptoms depends on the location of the cervical disc that is herniated.
How is Cervical Disc Herniation diagnosed?
Dr. Yakov Simkhayev will take a complete medical history and perform a physical and neurological exam. The patient will be asked about the symptoms they are having, when the pain started, where it is located, and what increases or decreases the symptoms. An x-ray, CT scan, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or EMG (electromyography) may be ordered to rule out other causes of pain and to determine the exact location and severity of the injury.
When should I seek care for Cervical Disc Herniation?
You should seek medical attention if you experience any type of severe pain in your neck, pain that radiates down your arm, or any type of numbness, tingling or weakness. A thorough medical evaluation is required to determine the cause of the symptoms and the extent of the injury. These symptoms can be the result of other medical conditions, some of which are severe.
What will the treatment for Cervical Disc Herniation consist of?
Initial treatment for cervical herniated discs includes applying ice periodically during the first 24 – 48 hours to reduce swelling and pain. After 48 hours, heat can be applied to relax muscles. Anti-inflammatory and pain medications may be taken, and in cases of severe pain, oral steroids or muscle relaxants may be used for a short time. At Determination Physical Therapy, sessions may include stretching exercises, massage, and traction, as well as other techniques. Surgery is a last resort option.
Which muscle groups/ joints are commonly affected by Cervical Disc Herniation?
Cervical disc herniation affects the neck, and may also affect the shoulders, arms and hands as pain radiates down the nerve pathways.
What type of results should I expect from the treatment of Cervical Disc Herniation?
Most individuals will be successful in alleviating their symptoms of pain, stiffness and swelling in a matter of a few weeks to a number of months. Once the pain is reduced, it typically will not return, but weakness, tingling and numbness may take longer to improve than the reduction in pain. In most cases, improvement in the condition can be achieved without surgery, but where surgery is indicated, it is most often successful.