Bulging Disc in the Neck

Back Surgery Information

Bulging Disc in the Neck

The official medical term for a bulging disc in the neck is a cervical herniated disc, and it is a fairly common condition for people 50 and older. It is often caused by the natural degeneration of the muscles supporting the spinal structure or the disc themselves wearing out over time and use. According to medical statistics, most of the cases of a bulging disc in the neck involve the C5-C6 and C6-C7 sections in the spine and often leads to pain and numbness in the arms, shoulders and neck areas.

The most recent well-chronicled case of a bulging disc in the neck happened to Peyton Manning, former quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts who now plays for the Denver Broncos. Manning’s case was fairly typical of most cervical herniated disc cases in that pain was particularly felt in the arm due to the herniated disc impinging on a nerve. Aside from pain, other symptoms also include numbness, weakness, and a persistent tingling feeling which progressively becomes more common as the disc pushes more into the nerve at times causing permanent damage. In Manning's cases, the most obvious symptom was the general weakness of the arm preventing him from throwing long passes which are required as a quarterback.

Diagnosis of the condition requires extensive medical testing involving imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that will look into the actual condition of the spine. Once diagnosed, treatment methods vary from therapy to surgery, depending on the severity of the condition as well as how the herniated disc responds to treatment methods.

In the case of therapy, treatment procedures often revolve around medication combined with exercises designed to correct the condition and strengthen the muscles of the neck portion to provide support. In many documented cases, the disappearance of pain in therapy is often indicative of normal healing and is likely to be observed a month or two into the treatment routine. In other cases, the pain disappears first but the tingling and numbness tend to persist for an extended period before fully disappearing when the muscles have been strengthened or the herniated disc has healed itself.

For surgical treatment plans, doctors typically repair the herniated disc or remove it and then fuse the remaining discs. However, due to its success rate many problem discs are now being replaced with an artificial ones. The biggest problem with bulging disc in the neck surgery is that it is very invasive and recovery periods can take months or even up to a year for patients regain complete use of their faculties. Recovering arm strength also requires extensive therapy to engage the muscles to perform as before. In rare cases, the arm never fully recovers to its original condition although the retained functions are known to be more than sufficient to perform everyday tasks. Medical statistics show that up to 90% of the time cervical herniated disc surgery completely relieves arm pain and the patient is able to resume their normal routine a few months post-surgery.

The most important thing concerning a bulging disc in the neck is to report it at the earliest possible time so adequate non-surgical treatment methods can be implemented while the condition is still in its early stages. The sooner a diagnosis can be made, the higher is the likelihood of full recovery without any need for surgery.

If you are feeling symptoms like arm pain or numbness and suspect that you have a bulging disc in the neck, immediately see a specialist for a definitive diagnosis. The condition is serious and requires all the attention that you can muster so never take it lightly. By being sensitive to your body, you may just be able to stave off surgery and still completely recover in a relatively short period of time.