A herniation in the neck, also known as a cervical disc herniation, refers to the condition in which a spinal disc located between the cervical vertebrae bulges or ruptures causing pain and dysfunction to the neck, shoulders, chest and upper extremities. Generally, a herniation can be the result of normal wear and tear to the spine; as we age, the integrity of the vertebrae and their discs degenerate and a herniation can occur. Injury can also cause cervical disc herniation by making small tears in the capsule of the disc. There are 7 vertebrae that make up the cervical spine and the nerves that exit this region of the spine innervate the upper extremities, neck, chest and shoulders. A herniation in the cervical spine can cause weakness, numbness, tingling and pain to any of these areas. The herniation can affect one side of the body or both. A cervical herniation can also cause a decrease in flexibility and stability of the neck, making it difficult to move the head with ease and without pain.
In most cases, non-surgical treatment options are efficient enough to produce positive results without the need for future spinal surgery. During an initial visit at a chiropractic office, after a health history and physical and neurological examinations are completed, if a cervical disc herniation is diagnosed, the treatment will begin with instructions to rest the neck and rehabilitation will also be discussed. After a period of time, if the symptoms are not improving with rest and the physical therapy rehab, as well as with gentle traction, then further testing, such as diagnostic imaging like an x-ray or MRI, will be done to determine the extent of degeneration.
The Low Back
The lumbar spine is the most common section of the spine to be diagnosed with a herniated disc. Like a herniation in the cervical spine, in the lumbar spine, symptoms can be felt on only one side of the body or both sides. Lumbar spine herniations can produce symptoms of weakness, numbness and pain in the low back and into the buttocks and lower extremities. A physical examination and health history will be completed as well as neurological testing to determine muscle strength and reflex response. Rest and rehab will be the initial treatment plan and will be followed with chiropractic manipulation, gentle traction if appropriate and other manual therapies. If no improvement is noted, diagnostic imaging may be necessary and a referral will be given to provide the patient with further medical options for the treatment of their herniated disc.
References Cited in this Article
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