A herniated disc is when your normal disc ruptures, the tissue comes out, and puts pressure on your nerve. When it is in the cervical spine, it is referred to as a cervical disc herniation. Our New York City spine surgeon, Andrew Casden, MD, explains that there are two ways a herniated disc can occur in the cervical spine. If it pushes out towards the front, it is not that severe and you may have some neck pain for a while. However, if it herniates out towards the back, it hits a nerve, either the spinal cord or nerve root, and then you get symptoms. Symptoms can include numbness, weakness, tingling, pain, or all the above.
Some of our patients have describe a pop, or a sensation of burning in the neck, and our New York City spine surgeon believes that is the first start to the herniation. Dr. Casden suggests that you view the herniation as a process, initially just pain, but usually progresses to more symptoms into your arm, within a day or two. Because the herniated disc is putting pressure on your nerve, you are not only going to feel nerve pain, but a weakness in your arm. Typically in one arm, but it can also be in both arms. If the herniated disc is more towards the center part, and you have pressure on your spinal cord, you are going to have other symptoms.
These symptoms are of greater concern, such as difficulty walking, loss of bowel or bladder control, or numbness into your feet, legs or your buttock area. In this case, it is important to contact our New York City spine surgeon. It’s also recommended that you call Dr. Casden right away if you experience progressive numbness or weakness into your arm or hand. This may be a sign that the herniated disc is so large that is putting pressure on your spinal cord in a way that could be dangerous for you. More than likely, we will do an MRI scan or a CAT scan of your neck, confirm the diagnosis, and recommend treatment. This is very rare, however, and typically, the symptoms of the cervical herniated disc are pain into your arm with some numbness and tingling. Arm pain from a cervical herniated disc is one of the more common cervical spine conditions. It usually develops in the 30-50 year old age group, and although a cervical herniated disc may originate from some type of trauma, or injury to the cervical spine, the symptoms usually start spontaneously.