Cervical Herniated Disc
What is a cervical herniated disc?
A cervical herniated disc is a common condition of the neck (cervical spine). With age, the discs begins to deteriorate, most commonly by drying out and shrinking. When this happens, the disc’s outer layer can become weak and tear, allowing the inner gel-like substance to protrude or leak out and push on very sensitive spinal nerves, leading to irritation and pain.
A cervical herniated disc is an age-related degenerative condition caused by wear and tear over time, repetitive stress on the neck, lifting heavy objects improperly or a traumatic injury such as a fall.
Typically, a single distinct incident leads to a herniated or ruptured disc, but the single movement may be years in the making. As we age, the discs in our spine lose water and elasticity, which can lead to a rupture, often from a simple twisting of the spine or other minor strain. Family history may play a role as well.
The symptoms of a cervical herniated disc vary based upon severity and location. Some patients even experience no pain. Common symptoms of a herniated cervical disc include:
- Neck pain with possible headaches
- Pain radiating down the arm
- Numbness and tingling in the arm or hand
- Dull or acute pain in the muscles between the neck and shoulder (trapezius muscles)
- Shooting pain that extends down the arm
- Weakness in one arm or shoulder (with major weakness, seek help immediately)
- Increased pain brought on by moving the neck in a certain direction
Chicago spine surgeon Dr. Singh will review your medical history, inquire about your symptoms, when they began, their duration and any factors that may have triggered or worsened your symptoms. He will conduct a thorough physical exam to assess your range of motion, strength and reflexes and any signs of nerve compression including identifying areas of numbness, weakness and pain that may point to compression of a specific nerve by a cervical herniated disc.
Imaging studies will include:
- An X-ray of the cervical spine to check for fractures and degenerative changes of the spine.
- An MRI of the cervical spine is the best way to view the details of the soft tissues like discs and nerves. T An MRI is helpful if conservative management has not improved symptoms, or the patient has red flag symptoms that require immediate evaluation.
- Other tests may be used to evaluate nerve function and the extent of nerve damage or compression.
The combination of medical history, physical examination findings, and imaging results will aid in confirming the diagnosis of a cervical disc herniation and guide appropriate treatment options.
Most often conservative management is the initial treatment of a herniated cervical disc. If conservative management does not provide relief after a reasonable period, Dr. Singh will discuss ultra-minimally invasive surgical options.
Schedule a consultation
If you or a loved one is experiencing neck and arm pain, contact Dr. Kern Singh to schedule a consultation to receive the correct diagnosis and all your treatment options.
Dr. Kern Singh, MD is an internationally renowned spine surgeon specializing in outpatient minimally invasive and motion-preserving techniques and endoscopic spine surgery at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush and Professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Singh is one of the nation’s Top 100 spine surgeons and beloved by his patients for his compassionate care and excellent outcomes. He welcomes nationally and internationally – based patients.
At A Glance
Dr. Kern Singh
- Minimally invasive and endoscopic spine surgeon
- Inventor and surgeon innovator with multiple patents in spinal surgery and instrumentation
- Author of more than 10 textbooks in minimally invasive spinal surgery
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