This is a medical condition that usually affects the spinal cord in which a tear in an outer fibrous ring allows a central portion to bulge on the outer damaged rings. Bones forming the spine have a cushion around the flat discs. These discs usually act as shock absorber protecting the spine and making it remain flexible. The bulging of these discs occurs only if they are damaged. Damage to the herniated discs can occur at any point on the spine but most cases are reported around the lumbar region and the neck area. The neck region is also called the cervical region and is usually made up of seven vertebrae that occur between the head and the chest.
Cervical disc herniation is in most cases related to old age. As people age, the wear and tear of the discs also called disc degeneration lead to damage of the discs. There is a fluid that helps keep the spine flexible. This fluid gets exhausted as people grow older and this prevents the spine flexibility causing disc damage. Another main cause to cervical disc herniation is injuries that occur to the spine. These injuries may cause small cracks on the outer part of the discs. These cracks usually lead to the jelly material inside the disc being forced out through the cracks. The disc then bulges out and ruptures into fragments.
The signs and symptoms of disc herniation usually depend on the part of the spine affected and the tissues affected. These symptoms range depending on the extent of damage ranging from little or no pain to mild and unrelenting pain on the neck region. There are cases of weakness or numbness that are felt around the neck region. When the disc damage is great enough, it may cause body tingling and general body weakness.
Usually medical practitioners make diagnosis based on patient physical examination, patient history and the symptoms of the disease. The doctors also look at the pain and numbness around the neck region and try find out the nerve related to the pain. The patient might be given rest and a rehabilitation period if cervical disc herniation is suspected before a fully diagnosis is done. This period is given to see if there are other signs that can come up. Other more sophisticated tests can be done if there is no change in the symptoms. These tests include use of magnetic resonance and x-rays.
Non surgical methods of treatment are usually given the first priority. These methods include activities that are modified together with rest. There are also medicines that are given and meant to relieve pain. These medicines also help clear any form of inflammation. There are also specific exercises that are advised by the doctors. One common exercise is traction in which the head is pulled gently to allow the cracks to spread. Injections of corticosteroids are also given to act as a short term option to keep the pain away. In cases where this herniated discs is serious and pushes the spinal fluid, surgical procedures can be done where by artificial discs are placed.
Usually prevention is better than cure. Having knowledge of these herniated disc condition can help one avoid disc damage.Giving the body enough rest after tiresome exercises is necessary for healthy discs.