Cervical Disc Herniation
Cervical discs serve to protect the delicate spinal cord and cervical nerves that exit through the spaces (foramina) between these vertebrae. In order to prevent the friction related damage to cervical vertebrae and to ensure the ease of movement, these cervical vertebrae are protected by cervical discs that serve as shock absorbers.
Disc herniation refers to the damage to these delicate spinal discs as a result of wear and tear related damage leading to herniation or misalignment.
What is cervical disc herniation?
Cervical disc herniation refers to herniation or tearing of cervical discs as a result of cracked vertebrae capsule. The resulting misalignment leads to pinched nerves that are subjected to an increased risk of injury and pressure leading to the following sign and symptoms.
Most commonly reported cervical disc herniations occur at C5-6 and C6 –C7
Sign and symptoms:
Sign and symptoms of cervical disc herniation are:
- Pain across the supply of affected nerve
- Weakness of muscle movement depending upon the nerve involved (cervical nerves supply shoulder, neck, upper limb and chest region).
The area of involvement varies with the location and severity of damage to cervical vertebrae.
How does it happen?
In order to maintain some degree of flexibility and movement across the vertebrae (gliding movements) that help in locomotion and weight bearing of the body, the space between two successive vertebrae is separated by spinal discs and a fluid that act as shock absorbers. However, as a result of aging, the amount of fluid decreases and degenerative changes destroy spinal discs. Due to the degenerative changes, the vertebrae lose their ability to sustain trauma, pressure and stress and undergo:
- Trauma or tearing of the vertebra capsule.
- Cracking of capsule
- Expulsion of nucleus pulpous
And other similar changes that affect the integrity of nerves that leave through these foramina leading to symptomatic nerve damage.
Following risk factors increase the risk of pre-mature degenerative disc changes leading to cervical herniation.
- Advancing age is one of the significant risk factors that is directly related to wear and tear changes in the vertebrae, with most cases reported among 35 to 55 years of age.
- Trauma or strain to cervical vertebrae also leads to aggravated pace of injury or degenerative changes.
- Some occupational activities also increase the risk of damage and degeneration. These include porters, weight lifters and body builders.
Treatment of Cervical Disc Herniation:
A highly effective treatment for many people suffering from Cervical Disc Herniation of the Neck is Spinal Decompression Therapy combined with Physiotherapy. Follow the link for Additional information on how Spinal Decompression Therapy for Neck Pain.