You have pain radiating down your arms. Maybe you even experience some trouble with your grip or numbness. When you google your symptoms of course it says “brain tumor,” and you’re afraid to go to the doctor.
Want to know what’s much more likely, and less serious? A herniated cervical disc. This is a painful condition that can involve complicated interventions like injections or surgery.
You can work with your doctor to treat and make significant improvements. Here’s what you need to know about this condition.
What Is a Herniated Cervical Disc?
Picture your spine as a very tall double cheeseburger. Your vertebrae – or backbones in your spine – are the buns. Your cervical discs are the hamburgers. These layers alternate for the entire length of your spine.
When an undue amount of stress is on your spine, a disc can herniate. This involves the soft layer of your “burger” pushing out from between the “buns.”
Herniated discs can happen anywhere along your spine, but when they happen between the upper seven vertebrae they are cervical herniated discs.
What Causes Herniated Cervical Discs?
The soft disc pushes through the cartilage that surrounds it. If the disc presses on nearby nerves this causes pain. This is what can cause the signs of a herniated cervical disc such as pain, numbness, and grip issues from shoulder to fingertips.
Herniated cervical discs occur both passively and actively.
Passive herniations occur simply due to natural aging processes or a predisposition to unstable discs. Active herniations occur due to injury. This may involve wrenching your neck or body, either doing an activity or being in an accident.
Treating Herniated Cervical Disc Symptoms
Treatment for herniated cervical discs is dependent on the severity of the issue. If you are experiencing minor symptoms of a herniated cervical disc then you may be able to find improvement with simple rest and anti-inflammatories.
For severe pain, your doctor may prescribe muscle relaxers or painkillers. These should help you feel comfortable while the disc begins to heal and the pain resolves.
If necessary, you may need to attend physical therapy. The physical therapist can help you resolve current pain as well as prevent future injuries to the disc.
You may be sent for an imaging to get a picture of the nerve involvement if needed. This will only help your doctor figure out a solid treatment plan.
Possible imaging ordered may include x-rays, MRIs, myelograms, and CT scans. Electromyography may also be used to check if the activity is the same in your nerves as it is expected to be.
If you need more serious intervention, steroid injections may be offered. This will take down inflammation in the area around your herniated cervical disc.
Many common spine conditions leave patients needing a spinal tap. This, instead, leaves them needing a spinal fusion.
Take Charge of Your Herniated Cervical Disc
If you feel pain in your shoulders or arms, don’t let it go untreated. Talk with your doctor about whether or not you may have experienced a herniated cervical disc.
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