(ĐTĐ) – The vertebrae of your spinal column are separated by cushiony disks, which absorb shock and allow for movement and flexibility in the spine. Sometimes these disks rupture or slip and bulge out where they shouldn’t, which is known as a slipped, ruptured, or herniated disk; when it occurs in the vertebrae of the neck, it’s called cervical disk herniation.
When a disk bursts or otherwise moves out of place, it can cause pain and other complications, and not only in the neck. Typical symptoms include pain, numbness, and a tingling sensation in the neck, shoulders, and arms, although in some cases, these may be felt in other parts of the body as well. If a particularly large disk has herniated, for example, the effects may be felt in the legs. There may be muscle weakness, usually in the arms or legs, which can affect how well you grip things or raise your arm or leg. Basically, the area of the body that is connected to the nerves around the slipped disk may experience some of the same effects as the neck itself.
The pain often comes on gradually and worsens over time. You may also notice an increase or a shooting pain after sudden movements like a cough or sneeze, or after you spend time in a certain position – sitting or standing for long periods, or just a particular posture.
Herniated disks can occur for a number of reasons. Usually, it’s just the result of wear and tear as we age, where the disks lose moisture and elasticity, making them more susceptible to damage from sudden twists. Heavy lifting is another leading cause: the advice to lift with your legs, not with your back exists for good reason. Twisting while lifting can also cause herniation. People whose jobs require frequent heavy lifting are more prone to herniated disks, as are people who are overweight, which strains the back.
To diagnose, a doctor will examine you for signs of muscle weakness, numbness, difficulty balancing, and diminished reflexes, and ask about any tingling. Other tests such as x-ray or MRI may also be performed. Ample rest is the foremost treatment, with medicine to reduce pain and inflammation; physical therapy or certain stretches may also be recommended, and posture modifications if necessary. In the rare cases involving loss of bladder function and severe pain, surgery may be required.