Ruptured Disc in Neck

Back Surgery Information

Ruptured Disc in Neck

A ruptured disc in neck is also referred to as cervical herniated disc. The spinal is made up of 33 vertebrae, 5 of which are fused together. The other 24 vertebrae make up the cervical vertebrae (7), thoracic vertebrae (12) and the lumbar vertebrae (5).

A ruptured disc in the lower back is the most commonly reported herniation but the ruptured disc in neck is also quite common. The ruptured disc may be caused by injury or trauma to the cervical spine. The injury may cause the nucleus of spinal disc to bulge out. If the bulging disc is pressing on a nerve, it may cause a nerve pinch.

A pinched nerve is quite common for a ruptured disc in neck for the simple reason that there is so little space in the cervical area such that even a small herniation of the discs will put pressure on the nerves.

The symptoms of a ruptured disc in neck can vary. Like a disc herniation in other parts of the spine, pain is a main symptom. The pain results from the compression of the nerves in the cervical spine. Pain will be experienced in the neck and may radiate down to the shoulder muscles. The pain may also be felt down the arm.

In some cases, a ruptured disc in the neck may cause headaches which are felt in the back of the head.

Another common symptom of a cervical herniated disc is numbness and tingling. This will be felt in the arms, shoulders and neck. They may also be a burning sensation experienced in these areas too. Muscle spasms may also be experienced.

Diagnosis of a ruptured disc in neck is not very different from the diagnosis of a ruptured disc in another part of the spine. The doctor will carry out a physical exam and ask questions to determine your medical history. A neurological exam may be performed to determine if mobility has been impaired, muscle strength and reflexes.

The doctor may also use diagnostic tests to confirm his diagnosis. The tests that may be carried out include x ray, CT scan, MRI or electromyelogram. The x ray may be done to rule out other possible causes for neck pain. However, the best test for a herniated disc is the MRI because it is less invasive, than the electromyelogram, and can diagnose even the smallest herniation.

As a matter of course, treatment for a ruptured disc in neck will start with conservative methods. These conservative treatment methods include anti-inflammatory medication (e.g. NSAIDs or oral steroids), physical therapy, rest, traction and chiropractic manipulation and activity modification. If conservative treatment does not resolve pain in 2 to 3 months, cervical spine surgery may be considered.