Herniated Disc in Neck - The pain in your arm is very uncomfortable. It goes down your arm or shoulder or it is causing numbness or tingling. You can not do the normal daily activities you are used to doing. You have tried taking ibuprofen and putting ice on your neck. You have decided it is time to see the doctor.
You might have other symptoms such as a dull ache, dizziness, pain that increases with movement, decreased range of motion, pressure, headache, muscle spasms, and possibly pain and stiffness that spreads to your face, shoulders, arms, and even your hands.
More severe symptoms include urinary retention or leg weakness which can cause balance problems. If you experience these symptoms, you should consult a medical practitioner without a doubt.
What caused the herniated disc in my neck?
A herniated disc in your neck is also called a cervical bulging disc, slipped disc, or ruptured disc. The discs are labeled C1 – C7. The intervertebral disc is tissue between each of the bones in your neck. The discs are made of a soft jelly-like middle with a tough outer shell. This disc creates a joint between each of the bones in the neck and spine that lets them to move from side to side. They are like little shock absorbers. The outer shell can tear and the jelly-like middle can squeeze out through the opening. That is how the disc can become herniated.
Common causes for a herniated disc in your neck are:
Age-related wear and tear
- Traumatic event
- Excess body weight
- Physically demanding jobs
What will the doctor do?
He or she will do a physical examination to see if he can determine the source of your pain. Your doctor will examine your arms, neck, shoulders and back to see if you are experiencing any pain, weakness, or tingling. If he is able to say for sure it is a herniated disc in your neck, he will treat you by starting with pain relievers and something for the inflammation in your neck. He or she may give you some exercises to do to stretch and strengthen your neck muscles.
If the pain is debilitating or extreme, he or she may give you a narcotic pain reliever and/or possibly a prescription muscle relaxer or a steroid pill. Your doctor may send you to have an x-ray of your neck. He may also ask that you have an MRI or CT scan. Once the results confirm you have a herniated disc in your neck, he or she may send you to physical therapy. They will measure your progress each week and have you do exercises at home for maximum strengthening benefits.
Your doctor or medical practitioner will take a conservative approach to healing the herniated disc in your neck. Cortisone injections may be used. They are usually given every 2 to 3 weeks up to a total of three (3) injections.
Surgery might be the only an option after trying everything else. Possible recommendations for surgery are spinal fusion or artificial disc replacement surgeries. The spinal fusion surgery that has had great results for many people, but it is considered a last resort. The artificial disc replacement surgery has had excellent results as well. The recovery and healing time for surgeries can be from six (6) weeks to two (2) years. It usually depends on a variety of circumstances as to how long the healing process takes.
What can I do at home before I go to a doctor?
Once you experience any type of neck pain, you can take a pain reliever and something for the inflammation (like ibuprofen or naproxen). Apply ice to the area alternating 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off. If you are experiencing mild pain, you can do stretching exercises for your neck.
What exercises can I do for a herniated disc in my neck?
- The Neck Stretch – Tilt your head to the left. Try to touch your ear to your left shoulder. With your left hand, lightly press on your temple. Work up to holding the position for 20 seconds. Repeat on the right side.
- The Chin – Bend your head forward while trying to touch your chin to your chest. Keep your shoulders relaxed. Hold for 20 seconds. Work towards 8 – 10 repetitions.
- Trampoline March – Stand in the middle of a trampoline with your hands at your sides and your feet together. Look straight ahead while marching in place. Do not move around the trampoline. Continue slowly for about 10 minutes working up to a moderate pace. Do twice a day.
- Blade Tighteners – While standing, slowly pull your shoulder blades toward your back. Squeeze them together as hard as possible and hold for five (5) seconds. Work towards doing a repetition of 10 times.
- Water exercises are good for strengthening muscles. The water creates resistance while soothing the area.
- Aerobic exercise and weight lifting is good for muscle strengthening when you feel up to it.
If any exercises cause additional pain, do not do them and consult your doctor. Always start with minimum repetitions and work up to the maximum. Repeat the exercises once or twice a day.
How can I prevent a herniated disc in my neck in the future?
Sometimes, a herniated disc in your neck will happen from reasons you can not prevent. However, a few tips to take to help in the future are:
- Do not sit in the same position for a long period of time, especially if looking down or at a computer screen for a long time.
- Do not slouch. Maintain a proper body positions.
- Remember this RICE acronym – Rest, ice, compression, and exercise to strengthen your neck and shoulder muscles.
- Exercise to help strengthen neck and shoulder muscles.
- Strength training and aerobic exercises
- Losing excess weight