RUPTURED DISC OR CERVICAL HERNIATED DISC

A common cause of neck, shoulder and arm pain is a ruptured or herniated cervical disc. Symptoms may include dull or sharp pain in the neck or between the shoulder blades, pain that radiates down the arm to the hand or fingers, or numbness or tingling in the shoulder or arm. Certain positions or movements of the neck can intensify the pain.

The symptoms of a cervical herniated disc often resemble other disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome, problems with the rotator cuff and gout. In some patients, a cervical herniated disc can cause spinal cord compression where disc material pushes on the spinal cord. This is a much more serious condition and may require a more aggressive treatment plan. Spinal cord compression symptoms include awkward or stumbling gait, difficulty with fine motor skills in the hands and arms, and tingling or “shock” type feelings down the torso or into the legs.

Anatomy – Normal Cervical Disc

In between each of the vertebrae (bones) in the spine is a disc, a tough fibrous shock-absorbing pad. Endplates line the ends of each vertebra and help hold individual discs in place. Each disc contains a tire-like outer band (called the annulus fibrosus) that encases a gel-like substance (called the nucleus pulposus).Nerve roots exit the spinal canal through small passageways between the vertebrae and discs. Pain and other symptoms can develop when the damaged disc pushes into the spinal canal or nerve roots.

Cervical disc herniation occurs when the annulus fibrosus breaks open or cracks, allowing the nucleus pulposus to escape. This is called a Herniated Nucleus Pulposus (HNP) or herniated disc.

Risk Factors for Cervical Disc Herniation

Progressive Steps Toward a Cervical Disc Herniation

Many factors increase the risk for disc herniation: (1) lifestyle choices such as tobacco use, lack of regular exercise, and inadequate nutrition substantially contribute to poor disc health. (2) As the body ages, natural biochemical changes cause discs to gradually dry out affecting disc strength and resiliency. (3) Poor posture combined with the habitual use of incorrect body mechanics can place additional stress on the cervical spine.

Combine these factors with the effects from daily wear and tear, injury, incorrect lifting, or twisting and it is easy to understand why a disc may herniate. A herniation may develop suddenly or gradually over weeks or months.

The four stages to a herniated disc include:

bullat
bullat
bullat
bullat

Disc Degeneration: chemical changes associated with aging causes discs to weaken, but without a herniation

Prolapse: the form or position of the disc changes with some slight impingement into the spinal canal. Also called a bulge or protrusion.

Extrusion: the gel-like nucleus pulposus breaks through the tire-like wall (annulus fibrosus) but remains within the disc.

Sequestration or Sequestered Disc: the nucleus pulposus breaks through the annulus fibrosus and lies outside the disc in the spinal canal (HNP).

Related Spinal Disorders

Sciatica

Sciatica

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Herniated Discs

Herniated Discs

Cervical Spondylosis

Cervical Spondylosis

Sciatica Causes

Sciatica Causes

Neck Pain

Neck Pain

Ruptured Disc

Ruptured Disc

Lumbar Spondylosis

Lumbar Spondylosis

Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative Disc Disease

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal Stenosis

Bulging Disc

Bulging Disc

Low Back Pain

Low Back Pain

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

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Ruptured Discs Animation Video

 

Ruptured Discs Animation Video Transcript

The backbone, or spinal column, consists of a series of bones called vertebrae, that connect the skull to the pelvis. The vertebrae are separated and cushioned by discs, which are filled with a jelly-like substance that acts as a shock absorber between each vertebrae.

Nestled inside a channel running from the brain to the base of the spine is the spinal cord. From the spinal cord, nerves branch out to the arms, legs and other parts of the body. It is through the spinal cord and connecting nerves that the brain sends signals to the body allowing movement and all body functions.

Trauma or injury to the back can cause the cushioning discs to rupture or to protrude (herniate) from the spinal column; the disc then presses on the branching nerves.

Pressure on a nerve can be painful, and because these nerves travel to other parts of the body, pain, tingling or numbness can be felt in other parts of the body.

Treatment of a ruptured disc depends on the severity of the injury.

 

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