One of the most frequently diagnosed causes of chronic neck pain and nerve-related discomfort in the shoulders, arms and hands is a herniated disc in the neck. This condition can arise when an intervertebral disc in the neck ruptures and extruded interior disc material makes contact with a nearby cervical nerve root. The resulting interference with the ability of the spinal nerves to conduct sensory and motor signals can cause pain, numbness, tingling and muscle weakness in the upper extremities.
A herniated disc located in the neck region (also known as a cervical herniated disc), is not as common as a herniated disc in the lower back (herniated lumbar disc), but cervical discs are still prone to injury and conditions such as arthritis and degenerative disc disease. The pain experienced from a herniated disc in the neck stems from the damaged disc itself and the specific nerve roots that are being compressed by disc material.
Eight pairs of nerve roots are located within the cervical spine. They are enumerated by the symbols C1 to C8, and each set innervates a different area of the upper body. This being the case, a herniated disc in the neck can affect the:
- Head and neck (C1-C2)
- Diaphragm (C3)
- Shoulders, arms, and hands (C4, C7-C8)
- Wrists (C5-C6)
Recent medical advances have brought effective management of the symptoms associated with a herniated neck disc much more within reach. Depending on the severity of the herniation and the location of the affected disc, a number of herniated disc treatment options exist. Initially, a physician may suggest a conservative approach, recommending cold and hot compresses, prescription or over-the-counter medication, exercise, physical therapy or lifestyle changes.
If chronic, debilitating pain associated with nerve compression that is caused by the herniated disc in the neck persists, your physician may present the option of surgery to help alleviate your symptoms. The surgeons and staff at Laser Spine Institute offer a variety of minimally invasive, outpatient procedures to manage the symptoms caused by a herniated disc in the neck. Contact Laser Spine Institute today for a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan, and to learn more about the alternatives to living with neck pain caused by a herniated disc.