It is important to note that the cervical spine is comprised of seven vertebrae in the neck that are separated from one another by discs that provide cushioning between the bones. These discs can eventually degenerate due to disc disease or normal wear and tear over the years or they can also end up injured during accidents. Cervical disc injuries due to any of these causes are common conditions that can be treated by the doctor. Always remember that a herniated disc presses on or pinches a cervical nerve resulting to the manifestation of various types of symptoms.
Generally, the symptoms of a cervical disc injury typically include dull or sharp aching in the neck, between the shoulder blades and in the arm. Oftentimes, it occurs down to the fingers. There are certain movements of the neck that can worsen the pain. In some cases, the individual can feel numbness or tingling sensation in the affected arm. Cervical disc herniation is often confused with other disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome or rotator cuff injury.
The levels of the cervical spine are identified based on numbers. The two common cervical disc injuries usually affect the C6 and C7 nerve roots. The cervical disc injury that affects the C6 nerve root can often lead to weakness in the wrists and biceps and accompanied by tingling or prickling sensation, numbness and pain that radiates to the thumb. A disc injury that affects the C7 nerve root can cause weakness, pain, tingling or prickling sensation as well as numbness in the triceps that radiates down to the hand.
Other potential injuries
Cervical disc injury can also affect the C5 and C8 nerve roots. The injuries that affect the C5 nerve root can lead to shoulder pain and weakness in the back muscle of the upper arm. An injury to the C8 nerve root can lead to tingling, numbness and pain that radiates down to the fingers. Once the C8 nerve root is affected, the individual can notice weakness when attempting to hold an object with the hand.
Possibility of a spinal cord compression
A cervical herniated disc can lead to compression of the spinal cord which is considered as a severe condition that would require immediate emergency care. The symptoms can include difficulty using the hands for fine motor skills, awkward gait and tingling sensations down the torso that can spread to the legs.
Treatment for cervical disc injury
Always remember that a cervical herniated disc does not necessarily require surgery for recovery. The doctor might recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen to help reduce the pain along with physical therapy. Take note that physical therapy involves mild stretching and exercise routines. The individual must consult a physical therapist so that the ideal program can be tailored to his/her needs.