The normal intervertebral disc is composed of a nucleus pulposus, at the center, surrounded by a fibrous ring known as annulus fibrosis. Cervical disc herniation is a condition in which the inner gelatinous substance of the disc escapes through a tear in the outer, fibrous ring causing a compression of the spinal cord or the surrounding nerves, resulting in neck or arm pain. Herniated disc is also known as a bulging disc, ruptured disc or slipped disc.
What causes it?
A cervical herniated disc may be caused by wear and tear of the disc due to the normal aging process or an injury to the cervical spine.
The predominant symptom of a cervical disc herniation is pain. The pain can range from mild to severe and is usually aggravated by movement. Other symptoms include problems with gait and balance, numbness, tingling and weakness radiating down your shoulder, arm, and hand, and rarely bladder and bowel problems.
Your doctor will usually diagnose a herniated disc from your history of symptoms and a physical examination. Your doctor may also perform a neurological examination to evaluate your sensations, reflexes, and the strength of the muscles. Other imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI or CT scan may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis of a herniated disc. X-rays of the cervical spine may be taken to locate the collapsed disc space. A CT and MRI scan provides better visualization of the anatomy of the intervertebral discs and spinal cord.