Beejal Y. Amin MD

Cervical Disc Herniation

What causes cervical disc herniations?

Typically, a single distinct incident leads to a cervical disc herniation (ruptured disc), but the single movement may be years in the making. As we age, the discs in our spine lose water and elasticity, which can lead to a rupture, often from a simple twisting of the spine or other minor strain. Family history may also play a role.

What are the symptoms of a cervical disc herniation?

The symptoms of a cervical disc herniation vary widely based upon severity and location in the spine. The symptoms Dr. Amin commonly sees include:

  • Dull or sharp pain in the muscles between the neck and shoulder blades (trapezius muscles)
  • Shooting pain that travels down the arm
  • Tingling in the shoulder, arm, and/or hand
  • Weakness in the shoulder, arm or hand (if major weakness, then seek immediate medical attention)
  • Increased pain brought on by moving the neck in a certain direction
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control (seek immediate medical attention)
  • Headaches in the back of the head

How are cervical disc herniations treated?

Non-surgical Treatment

Most patients with cervical disc herniations do not require surgery, because their symptoms improve with a trial of conservative management. Conservative treatments may be prescribed in combination or individually, depending on your particular case, to ease irritation of the nerve and alleviate pain. These treatments include

  • Physical therapy
  • Cervical Traction
  • Pain medications, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDS)
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Gentle heat to the neck
  • Steroid injections or “nerve blocks”

Surgery to Treat Cervical Disc Herniation

If conservative treatments fail to provide adequate pain relief or a patient continues to suffer from loss of motor function, then cervical spine surgery may be recommended for a cervical disc herniation. A large percentage of patients treated by Dr. Amin experience significant relief of pain following surgery.

Surgical procedures Dr. Amin may consider for cervical disc herniation include: