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Neck Pain | Cervical Disc Herniation and Pinched Nerves!

What the Neck Pain?

If you have neck pain related to cervical disc herniation or stenosis as it relates to your c3-c4, c4-c5 and c5-c6, then you should read the following:

We see many patients who complain about neck pain, stiffness in muscles such as shoulders, arms and biceps who don’t even realize they may have herniated their cervical discs.

Below you will find common questions and answers to Cervical Disc Herniations. We also discuss basic treatment styles for such herniations and explain how they work.

1. What is a disc herniation of the cervical spine?

Literally, a disc herniation is when the nucleus pulposis of a disc migrates out through the annular fibrosis into the outer portion of a spinal disc.  What the heck does that mean?  Picture it this way.  A disc is like a jelly donut, it is made up of 2 parts.  The center is the jelly (nucleus pulposis) and it is supposed to stay in the center.  It is surrounded by the donut (annulus fibrosis).  Unlike a donut, there is no hole in the disc to inject the jelly into so there are really no weak points for the jelly to come out.  Take a look at the picture below and you will see a cross section of both a normal intervertebral disc and a herniated disc (and a jelly donut, yummmm!).

2. How do the discs in your neck or cervical spine get herniated?

There are so many different ways an intervertebral spinal disc can herniate.  I see a lot of patients that get into car accidents (what doctors call MVA’s or motor vehicle accidents).  When you suffer a whiplash injury, when your head gets violently whipped back and forth, that is one way a disc can herniate.  Sports injuries, slips and falls, or even abnormal wear and tear.  If the body is out of alignment and one side rubs more than the other it can lead to an area getting weak and that can cause a disc to herniate.  In my practice, I see a lot of people with bad posture that have sustained herniated discs.  Repetitive stress injuries, overuse syndromes and a whole lot of other issues can also cause intervertebral discs to herniate, but I think you get my point.

3. What are the cervical disc herniation symptoms like?

Before, we list the symptoms, we should explain why you get symptoms.  First, when you herniate a disc that means there has been soft tissue damage.  That damage causes a response in the body that includes inflammation, muscle spasms and pain.  Now that combination of symptoms you can tag to any type of soft tissue damage including; sprained ankles, black and blues, shoulder injuries, even cuts and bruises.  I think everyone knows what happens when they stub their toes.  That is your body’s response to injury and damage.  It is your defense mechanism and you don’t have to think about doing it because it happens automatically.  With herniated discs, though, it doesn’t stop there.  The jelly (nucleus pulpous) creeps out of the disc and goes into the part of the spine that the spinal cord and spinal nerves go through.  That’s where the real problems begin.  Sometimes the herniation is large enough where the jelly pushes right onto the spinal cord or the spinal nerves that go through the area of the spine that the disc herniates from.  When you “pinch” a nerve like that you get a whole other list of symptoms due to the injury to the nerve.  These can include; pain, numbness and tingling, burning, weakness, loss of sensation, loss of muscle strength, loss of muscle mass (atrophy) and even paralysis.  We all know what happened to Christopher Reeves when he injured his spinal cord and that is no good.

 

4. What treatments are there for c3-c4, c4-c5, c5-c6 disc herniations?

At The Spine and Health Center of Montvale, we have had tremendous success helping patient’s with herniated discs.  We have a large population of our patient’s that have suffered herniated intervertebral discs in their cervical spines (necks) and lumbar spines (low backs).  At our office we have combined the latest advances in physical medicine to help treat, not only the symptoms associated with herniations, but the discs themselves.  From Chiropractic, Physical Therapy, Acupuncture and Massage to more technological modalities like Laser, Decompression, Active Therapeutic Movements (ATM’s), etc.

I hope this will answer some of your questions about herniated discs. If there is anything more I can help you with, don’t hesitate to call me at The Spine and Health Center of Montvale.  Our phone number is 201-746-6577 or email us at drpete@thespineandhealthcenter.com.