Herniated Cervical Disc

A herniated cervical disc is the result of the annulus – the outer layer of the intervertebral disc - rupturing or tearing. If the annulus ruptures or tears the nuclear material inside the disc will impinge on the cervical nerve roots and the thecal sac, which contains the cerebrospinal fluid, resulting in pain, paraesthesia – such as tingling or prickling - and decreased range of motion. Severe night pain is common and forward flexion or bending of the neck will exacerbate the discomfort. Weakness in the neck, shoulder and arm muscles as well as decreased reflexes may be experienced. Normal neck motion results in the nucleus pressing against the annular fibres, however excessive minor repetitive motion or traumatic motion such as whiplash injuries and skiing injuries can produce a sudden herniated cervical disc. The most common inter vertebral discs to become herniated are the ones impacting on the C5 and C6 nerve roots.

Symptoms include numbness or tingling in the shoulder or arm, and dull or sharp pain in the neck or between the shoulder blades, radiating down the arm.

Herniated cervical discs can be confused with thoracic outlet syndrome.

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