That Crook In Your Neck May Be a Disc Problem: Bringing Healing to the Body Rather Than Living with the Pain

That Crook In Your Neck May Be a Disc Problem: Bringing Healing to the Body Rather Than Living with the Pain

Disc problems in the neck vary with degree of intensity and seriousness and can create uncomfortable, even painful, symptoms of neck and shoulder pain, arm and hand numbness and weakness, and pronounced headaches. Chiropractic care can be an effective course of treatment for most diagnosed disc problems where spinal manipulation, manual therapy and therapeutic exercises may become part of a treatment program to address the pain.

A bulged disc, a protruded disc, or a herniated disc are all injuries incurred to the cushioning and connective tissue between the vertebrae of the neck area, usually caused by excessive strain or trauma to that part of the spine.

Each disc in the spine is comprised of a soft gelatinous inner portion and a tough outer ring. An injury or weakness can cause the inner contents of a disc to protrude through the outer ring (like squeezing the jelly from a jelly doughnut). When the gel-like nucleus ruptures through a tear in the disc wall and touches a nerve, pain ensues. When this bulging or herniation occurs, we have what is commonly called a “slipped” disc. It is actually a bulged, protruded, or herniated disc causing great pain and discomfort. Should the “slipped” disc compress one of the spinal nerves, numbness and pain in an arm and possibly even the hand along the affected nerve result.

A bulged disc is a slight movement of the disc like a mild herniation. It can cause some moderate discomfort especially in certain positions.

A disc protrusion occurs when the disc nucleus herniates moderately but does not rupture and gel-nucleus remains contained within the disc. Protrusions feel much worse and are often considered for surgery.

A herniation is a severe movement of the disc often accompanies by tearing or rupturing of the annulus, the outer covering of the disc. Herniations usually have severe consequences and are almost always ruled surgical.

Over time the annulus can wear down and/or tear, leaving the nucleus and the spinal nerve root vulnerable to an injury. When a tear in the outer fibrous ring or annulus of an intervertebral disc cannot prevent the soft central gel from squirting out, the disc is extruded. Now an unhealthy interaction between the herniated disc material and the spinal nerve root occurs leading to pain and/or nerve symptoms such as numbness. When a part of a damaged disc herniates, it may press on a nerve creating what is known as radiculopathy (pinched nerve). Here a patient feels pain, tingling, numbness, weakness and/or electrical type feelings radiating down one arm and possibly the hand.

In addition to radiating arm/hand pain, you may experience pain on or near shoulder blade, neck pain when turning the head or bending the neck sometimes accompanied by numbness and tingling in the arm.

Neck and shoulder muscles may tighten uncontrollably creating muscle spams and weakness in the arm muscles (biceps, triceps) and handgrip may also be experienced. Cervical(1) “slipped” disc commonly causes dull or sharp neck and upper body pain between the shoulder blades.

A cervicogenic headache can occur as a result of a “slipped” disc. It is a type of headache rooted in the cervical(1) spine (neck) or base of the skull region. Here pain is referred to the head from either the cervical spine or soft tissues within the neck.

A person with a cervicogenic headache may experience:

  • pain on one side of the head or face

  • a stiff neck

  • pain around the eyes

  • vertigo or dizziness

  • pain experienced when coughing or sneezing

  • a headache worsened by certain neck postures or movement

A cervical nerve root compression from degeneration in the lower cervical spine and producing radiculopathy (pinched nerve) may also induce headache. For example, if arthritis has caused bone or spinal disc degeneration, the degenerating matter may press on a nerve extending from the spinal cord.

The nerve, in turn, becomes inflamed or pinched. Such headaches are signaled by the following symptoms:

  • numbness and tingling in arm and hand

  • muscle spasms in the neck

  • pain when moving the neck

  • weakness of the hands

  • headache radiating from back of head to forehead

  • tenderness in neck and shoulders

  • same-sided shoulder/arm pain

Daily or recurring headaches are common in patients with cervical radiculopathy and the headache is experienced on the same side of the head as the pinched nerve location.

Because pain from disc problems can be severe, doctors tend to prescribe pain medications which can be very addictive. At Wagner Chiropractic, we are absolutely dedicated to getting our patients relief from pain by bringing healing to the body and not just masking pain with addictive drugs. Even if you have been told you need surgery, through our hand tailored spinal decompression and laser packages we can work with you to often avoid back surgery.

  1. In vertebrates, cervical vertebrae (singular: vertebra) are the vertebrae of the neck, immediately below the skull.

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Endnotes:

Persson, Liselott C. G. et al. “Headache in patients with cervical radiculopathy: a prospective study with selective nerve root blocks in 275 patients.” U. S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, National Center for Biotechnology Information, 16 July 2007, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17180400

Rapoport, Alan M., and Fred D. Sheftell. Headache Relief: a Comprehensive, up-to-Date, Medically Proven Program That Can Control and Ease Headache Pain. Simon and Schuster, 1991.