What are Cervical Disc Herniation Symptoms and Treatments?

Author: Daniel J. Albright, MD

Hello. Cervical disc herniation symptoms and treatment. My name is Dr. Dan Albright.

I'm an orthopedic spine surgeon in Raleigh, North Carolina. So, cervical disc herniation first of all cervical means the neck, the cervical spine and the disc is the mobile piece part between the bone, the vertebrae. So that's what a disc is. It's like a tire between the hard bones. A herniation means a rupture, means a blowout sort of like the jelly coming out of a jelly doughnut. Think of the disc like a jelly doughnut and it's the soft part between the bones. There's the outer part and then the inner part is the jelly.

And occasionally that jelly squirts out, that's a disc rupture. That's a disc herniation. It's very inflammatory. It hurts. If you have a disc rupture on your nerve you get awful, toothache-like pain going down your arm down your shoulder blade. It can be pretty tough.

So that's the symptom. A symptom is what you feel. What does the patient feel.

What are Cervical Disc Herniation Symptoms and Treatments?

That's what symptom is. A sign I look for is weakness, reflex changes, changes in your physical exam as a sign. First thing we want to know is what are your symptoms. Typically for a disc rupture it's neck pain, shooting to the shoulder, shooting to the shoulder blades, the scapula, then down the arm. Then again many people say it's like a toothache.

A toothache is nerve pain. That's what a disc rupture does it causes nerve pain. Pressed nerves, pinched nerves all the same thing. Our medical term is radiculopathy. You might see that if you are reading about this. So, what do you do about it? What's the treatment for this.

Usually it's not surgical but not always. Surgery can be terrific, but first is non-surgical. One is don't exercise.

Don't use your arms. If you have a ruptured disc exercise is bad. This is not a muscle it's a nerve.

Nerves get worse with exercise. You can go ahead an walk. Walk a lot, but don't do any upper body. Don't lift over a gallon of milk. A gallon of milk is it. Take some Advil. Take some Aleve.

If you are allowed to from a medical viewpoint. Stay out of a car. A car can aggravate it. You are allowed to be in a car, but the vibrations can get you. Therapy can help help sometimes. Sometimes a traction it's a bit old-fashion, but occasionally a traction will pull on the neck and take pressure off the nerve, pressure off the disc. Occasionally traction will help.

Occasionally shots can help. We'd send you to a pain clinic for that. A cervical epidural steroid shot can help. Time.

We're trying to buy time. If we can get the patient through a week, two weeks, three weeks. Usually nature just calms this down. Nature cures disc ruptures. They absorb. They dissolve. They go away. Those are the main things for treatment.

Not everyone gets better with non-surgery, non-surgical treatment. Surgery is terrific. It's proven. We go in the front of the neck, sometimes the back of the neck. Take pressure off the nerve. You wake up and people go "aaah" the pressure is just gone, just like a toothache - the pressure is just gone when you get the tooth fixed. So there are a lot of treatment options that work.

Usually non-surgery treatments, pain pills, or anti-inflammatories work, and are enough but if not surgery is the cure, usually. If you'd like to know more. I'd be happy to see you anytime. My website is danalbrightmd.com. Our appointments line telephone number is 919-863-6808. Thanks.

What are Cervical Disc Herniation Symptoms and Treatments?

Hello. Cervical disc herniation symptoms and treatment. My name is Dr. Dan Albright.I'm an orthopedic spine surgeon in Raleigh, North Carolina. So, cervical disc herniation first…

By: Daniel J. Albright, MD