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What is a Cervical Herniated Disc?

Allison Boelcke
By
Updated May 17, 2024
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A cervical disc is a hard circular cushion located between the bones of the neck and spine. Each disc is surrounded by a fluid known as nucleus pulposus and covered with annulus fibrosus, a protective strip made of a firm, rubber-like material. The purpose of cervical discs is to protect the neck and spine from damage resulting from impact. A cervical herniated disc is a condition in which the nucleus pulposus leaks out, resulting in cracking or displacement of the cervical disc.

When the condition first occurs, a person may not necessarily experience any symptoms. If he or she does experience symptoms, they will typically include numbness of the shoulders, arms, neck, or chest. The condition can also cause mild to severe pain in the arms and neck, depending on the degree of damage to the cervical disc. The pain is usually caused by the cervical disc or the leaking fluid touching any spinal nerve fibers, resulting in irritation.

A cervical herniated disc is often due to deterioration simply as a result of the aging process. Over time, the cervical discs may begin to lose some of the nucleus pulposus, which may make the discs more susceptible to slipping out of place. Any type of trauma, such as a fall, can potentially forcibly crack the annulus fibrosus that covers the cervical disc and cause the nucleus pulposus to leak. In some cases, the condition can be due to repeated severe slumping of the spine and neck, which may result in displacement of the cervical discs.

Mild instances of a cervical herniated disc can be treated by reducing any inflammation in the neck or spinal regions. This can be accomplished by a patient taking anti-inflammatory medications. A doctor may also recommend applying an ice pack to the affected area to reduce the inflammation of the cervical discs. Patients with the condition will typically be referred to physical therapy to learn to comfortably move the neck and reduce any rigidity. Although these treatment options do not cure the condition, they can help get rid of the uncomfortable symptoms and prevent patients from making the condition worse.

For a more severe case of a cervical herniated disc, a person may typically require surgery to treat any pain, especially if the affected discs are pressing down on the spinal cord. A surgeon will generally make an incision in the front of the neck to gain access to the herniated disc. He or she will then remove any areas of the disc that are irritating the spinal cord or otherwise causing pain.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Allison Boelcke
By Allison Boelcke , Former Writer
Allison Boelcke, a digital marketing manager and freelance writer, helps businesses create compelling content to connect with their target markets and drive results. With a degree in English, she combines her writing skills with marketing expertise to craft engaging content that gets noticed and leads to website traffic and conversions. Her ability to understand and connect with target audiences makes her a valuable asset to any content creation team.

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Allison Boelcke

Allison Boelcke

Former Writer

Allison Boelcke, a digital marketing manager and freelance writer, helps businesses create compelling content to connect with their target markets and drive results. With a degree in English, she combines her writing skills with marketing expertise to craft engaging content that gets noticed and leads to website traffic and conversions. Her ability to understand and connect with target audiences makes her a valuable asset to any content creation team.
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