Everything You Should Know About Cervical Herniated Disc Or Ruptured Disc

Most people experiences pain on the neck, shoulders and arm. While at times, it’s all due to long days at work, we may not realize that there’s actually an underlying problem that’s causing the pain. One of the possible causes is what they call a ruptured disc or cervical herniated disc, which occurs when the cushions between the vertebrae in the upper back and neck (cervical disc) bulges out through the outer cervical disc wall.

Either we do it regularly or just occasionally, heavy lifting or similar damaging activities and motion, tobacco use, lack of exercise, inadequate nutrition, and failure to practice good posture  can put too much pressure on the disc that results to pain. Sometimes, aging triggers this as well. Pain that intensifies if the damage reaches the spinal canal or nerve roots.

You may consider it as a red flag for a cervical herniated disc when you start experiencing pain, numbness, weakness or tingling that runs from the arms through the hands until your fingers. In some cases, this conditions triggers spinal cord compression that may call for an intensive treatment plan. You’ll know when you have it when symptoms like awkward or stumbling gait, fine motor skills in the hands and arms difficulty, tingling or “shock” sensations at the torso or into legs, are manifesting on your body.

Here are the 4 stages of a ruptured or herniated disc:

  • Disc Degeneration
Our body go through a lot of changes when we age, especially our bones. Intervertebral disc weakens due to chemical changes, despite of a herniation. When this happens, our bones becomes fragile since its ability to absorb shock from movements has diminished.

  •  Prolapse
More known as bulging disc or protruding disc, wherein there’s a little nucleus pulpous (jelly-like inner disc material) trapped in the narrow opening in the annulus fibrosus (tire-like wall).

  •  Extrusion
This happens when the trapped nucleus pulpous finally managed to break through annulus fibrosus but stays within the disc.

  • Sequestration or Sequestered Disc
Now the jelly-like inner disc material opens the tire-like wall and comes out from the intervertebral disc and into the spinal canal.

After the doctor puts you through physical examination which involves x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, CT myelogram or bone scans. Your doctor may also ask you to do some positions or make a certain movement in order for him to detect some limitations of movement in the spine, balance difficulties, fluctuations in reflexes, weakness in muscles, damage in your senses, or reflex abnormality that hints that involves your spinal cord. That, and your medical history plus your symptoms, your doctor will conclude your exact condition.

Alternative Treatments
Most of the time, through medication the pain from a herniated disc diminishes within just a couple of weeks up to a few months. However, the numbness or tingling sensation may take a while before it improves.
Your doctor may suggest the following for treatment:
·         Physical Therapy - to relieve the pressure on the nerve root.
·         Medications - NSAIDs for inflammation and analgesics as pain killer.
·      Epidural Steroid Injection And Nerve Root Injection - to relieve your hips and legs from the acute pain and fight inflammation.

Surgical Options
You have to understand that you should consider surgery as your last option. Don’t decide to have a surgery unless the pain has progress for 6 to 12 weeks, or the pain started from tolerable then turned to unbearable. 
Here are the two possible surgery procedure:
·         Discectomy—or partial disc removal, wherein they will only remove a small portion of the bone in the front of the neck also called anterior discectomy.
·         Laminectomy—which involves the back of the neck also known as posterior laminectomy.