Cervical herniated disc – what it is and how to treat it

cervical herniated disc.Cervical herniated disc

Have you recently been diagnosed with a cervical herniated disc, and are looking for answers as to what that really means? In this article, we will discuss what the diagnosis means, and some of the available treatment options.

A cervical herniated disc is a commonly diagnosed condition for individuals ages 30-50. It is often caused by the wear and tear of aging (disc degeneration), although smoking can increase the likelihood of cervical disc herniation. Injuries to your spine or neck can also cause a herniated disc, regardless of age. You might experience pain, numbness or weakness in your upper body, although in severe cases your legs or lower body may also be affected.

The discs in your spine are filled with a jellylike material, and surrounded by a protective capsule. When you have a cervical herniated disc, one of the discs between the top 8 vertebrae of your spine has been pushed into an incorrect position, and has broken through its protective casing. You might have a ruptured disc, in which case the casing has completely broken open, or the cushioning material in the capsule may be being pushed through small cracks or tears in the membrane.

Most likely, your doctor conducted a physical exam, complete with diagnostic imaging tests such as X-rays or an MRI before diagnosing you with a cervical herniated disc. He or she may have a suggested that you rest following an initial inventory of your symptoms and physical exam before choosing to pursue diagnostic imaging, however. In some cases, you may not have even received X-rays, an MRI or a CT scan unless your physician suspected a different condition. This period of rest might be all that your body needs to recover from the condition!

If you are still suffering from symptoms after the advised period of rest, your doctor may choose to pursue one of many treatment routes, depending on the severity and location of your symptoms. Nonsurgical treatment is the most common choice for this condition, and may include physical therapy, rest, modified activities, targeted exercises, or even traction. Your physician may choose to medicate you for the pain with corticosteroids, pain and anti-inflammatory medications, or muscle relaxants.

For individuals still suffering from significant pain or complications after nonsurgical treatment options have been exhausted, further imaging studies may be performed, and tests such as EEGs (electroencephalograms) might be used to determine if a particular nerve or cluster of nerves is being adversely affected. In these cases, surgery is often an option.

One common procedure to treat a cervical herniated disc is called a discectomy, and involves removing the entire disc, or the part of the disc that is responsible for causing your pain and symptoms. The most frequently performed type of discectomy for this position is called a cervical anterior discectomy and fusion, and involves the complete removal of the disc and the fusion of the affected vertebrae. In roughly 80% of cases, however, surgery is not required to treat this condition.

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