Our pain management doctors provide a quick recovery from your neck pain and stiffness using the latest non-surgical treatment options, including trigger point injections, cervical facet joint injections, physical therapy, and chiropractic care. As experts in cervical disc herniation, we can pinpoint the source of your neck pain and prescribe a personalized, time-tested treatment plan that works. Visit our pain management clinic and meet our physicians to get the neck pain relief you need in the safe, reassuring hands of New York’s best doctors located in Downtown Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan.
What Is a Cervical Disc Herniation?
The best way to answer the question of “What is a Cervical Disc Herniation?” is to break the phrase apart. The cervical is anything that’s related to the neck. When we’re speaking about cervical discs, we’re referring to the rubbery cushions between the vertebrae.
A hernia is when something protrudes out of its usual “container.” A healthy spinal disc has a center that’s soft, like jelly. It’s called the nucleus and it’s held in place by a rubbery exterior or a shell that’s called an annulus. When a disc herniation occurs, there’s typically a tear in the annulus and the nucleus begins to push or ooze out. You’ll sometimes hear a cervical disc herniation called a slipped disc or a ruptured disc.
What Happens When You Rupture a Disc?
Picture your cervical spine, the vertebrae are all neatly stacked together with healthy discs sandwiched in-between. An injury happens and a small tear is created in the annulus. You might not even notice that the tear happened or feel anything at all. But the next time you move your neck there is pressure on the disc and instead of shifting the nucleus within the annulus in response to the pressure, some of the nucleus begins to bulge out of the tear. This is a disc herniation.
Sometimes, when you move your neck back, the nucleus will slip back inside the annulus and you might never realize a herniation occurred. Other times, the nucleus stays in an extruded position and it presses on cervical nerves, causing pain and other symptoms.
Symptoms of Cervical Disc Herniation
Some people can have a herniated disk and not be aware of it at all. Other people have severe neck pain and can also experience numbness, tingling, and/or weakness. Often, a small herniation creates short-term pain and problems, but there can be more severe and chronic pain that extends beyond the neck and can even reach into the arms and down the back.
If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, you could have a disc herniation. If you live in the New York area, it’s best to schedule a visit at Downtown Pain Physicians. In our offices you’ll get a proper diagnosis and a customized treatment plan to relieve your cervical herniation symptoms.
- Neck pain. When your cervical nerves are pinched by a herniated disc, you’re going to feel pain. The pain can be mild, or it can be sharp and burning, it all depends on how impinged your nerves are.
- Neck stiffness. Inflammation often accompanies a cervical herniation which can lead to a feeling of stiffness in your neck or limited range of motion.
- Radicular pain. This is pain that radiates from the area of injury or the pinched nerve. Typically, radicular pain from a cervical herniation feels like it’s shooting down the neck and into the shoulder or arm, for some people the pain can even reach to their hands and fingers. A sensation of heat or “electric shock” may accompany the pain.
- Cervical radiculopathy. While radicular pain is pain shooting from the sight of the injury, cervical radiculopathy (link to page when this is written and posted) happens when the pinched nerve gets inflamed and a feeling of numbness or noticeable weakness extends away from the herniation. You might feel pain along with these symptoms, or there might not be any pain at all.
- Intermittent pain. Pain from a herniated disc often comes and goes, sometimes leading people to think it’s better or that there’s been a reinjury. You might find that doing certain activities or even just looking in one direction brings back the pain.
Whether you’re having symptoms or not, stop in at either of our offices in downtown New York City and learn more about the available treatment options. We work with each patient on an individual basis, so treatment is customized to fit your diagnosis and lifestyle.
Diagnostic Test for Cervical Herniated Discs
When you come to Downtown Pain Physicians for your appointment, your doctor will perform a few tests to see if you do indeed have a herniated cervical disc. Some of the diagnostic tests may include:
- X-rays. X-rays us small doses of radiation to produce photographic or digital images of your spine.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). By using magnets and computer-generated radio waves, detailed photographs of your internal organs and tissues are created.
- Electromyography/Nerve Test (EMG). An EMG measures the electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles, this can pinpoint disc herniation and pinched nerves.
- Physical Examination. The doctor will also feel around the neck and shoulder region for pain or tenderness. They might also check your range of motion to see if you’re having difficulty moving.
Once your diagnosis has been confirmed, then you will move on to the next step and explore the treatment options available.
Treatment Options for Herniated Discs in Your Neck
Luckily, the prognosis for relieving herniated disc pain in your neck is pretty good. Even if the herniation isn’t fixed, you typically can recover from your neck pain with non-surgical treatment. Our doctors are experts in this field and can pinpoint your pain issues and prescribe a personalized treatment plan that works.
While your specific treatment options for neck pain will differ, the following are possible paths you might be prescribed to find neck pain relief.
- Trigger Point Injections
- Epidural Steroid Injections
- Medial Branch Block
- Cervical Facet Joint Injections
- Cervical Discectomy
- Physical Therapy
- Chiropractic Care by Downtown Physicians (Do you have a link for here)
Dr. Raval is very kind and explains everything in layman’s terms, which is super helpful. Thanks so much, guys! 🙂
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What Caused Your Herniated Cervical Disc?
Disc herniation can happen anywhere along your spine, but the most common areas are in your neck or your low back region. Unfortunately, a lifetime of wear and tear can lead to a disc herniation, which means that everyone is susceptible to this condition at some point. As you age, your discs tend to dry up and the jelly-like nucleus becomes less flexible while the rubbery annulus is more prone to ruptures and tears.
But aging isn’t the only cause of herniated discs. Injuries are also a main culprit when it comes to back and neck pain from herniation. The injury could be something traumatic like a car accident or it could be something as simple as lifting with your back and not your legs.
Risk Factors that Increase Odds of Herniating a Disc
There are a few risk factors that are known to increase your odds of having a herniated disc at some point in your lifetime. Some of these risk factors are out of your control, but there are others that you can work to improve if you want to avoid a cervical herniated disc.
- Nothing you can do about your genes, but it seems that some families tend to have more disc herniation issues than others. If you have family members who have had this condition, then you might be predisposed to it.
- This is a risk factor that you can do something about. It’s not easy losing weight but decreasing the stress on your spine is worth the effort.
- If you’re a smoker, there is a chance that this habit can cause your discs to break down more quickly. Smoking can be a very difficult habit to break, luckily there are a number of smoking cessation programs that can help you kick the habit.
- If you have a physically demanding job, then your body is constantly being stressed, and repetitive movements mean it’s being strained in the same area, time after time. This can weaken certain areas of your spine or make them more likely to suffer an injury.
- Hobbies and activities. Whether it’s your gym addiction, favorite sporting activities, or lifting and playing with your children. The more you’re twisting and turning your neck region, the more chances you have of straining it and causing a disc herniation.
How to Prevent Disc Herniation
While there’s no trick to preventing disc herniation, there are some things you can do to try to reduce your risks and support spinal health, both in your neck and the rest of your spine, too.
- Quit smoking. Yes, this was mentioned above, but quitting smoking can have multiple benefits for your body. While it’s not easy, it can be done.
- Lose weight. Another way to prevent disc herniation that takes quite a bit of effort is losing weight. The extra pounds put a lot of stress on your spine, your muscles, and your joints. Not to mention your internal organs. Weight loss can improve your overall health significantly.
- Exercise is a great way to improve your health all over, but with the right exercise program, you can specifically work on trunk stabilization to give your spine added strength.
- Learn to lift correctly. Learn to lift with your legs and then make it a habit. This can save you from numerous back injuries all along your spine. It’s a little thing that can make a big difference.
- Improve your posture. Few people have excellent posture at all times, but it is a great goal to strive for. Sitting and standing correctly reduces pressure on your spine and discs.
Acute and Chronic Neck Pain
Interestingly, cervical neck herniation can lead to acute pain and chronic pain. Some people begin with an acute pain situation and then it can end up being a chronic issue. These differences can make it difficult to determine if what you’re experiencing is a cervical disc herniation or another condition.
The best course of action if you’re in the New York, NY area is to visit Downtown Pain Physicians to decide if you’re a candidate for acute pain management or if it’s time to begin looking at chronic pain treatment options.
Do you have any questions about the Cervical Disc Herniation treatments we offer in New York City? Would you like to schedule an appointment with the neck pain specialists of Downtown Pain Physicians? Please contact our office for a consultation at 212.404.8070 and indicate which pain treatment center (Downtown Brooklyn or Lower Manhattan) you would like to visit.
The information on this website is to provide general information. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive treatment advice. It is essential to consult a best-in-class pain management specialist in New York regarding ANY questions or issues. A thorough evaluation should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call your pain doctor to schedule a consultation.
Dr. Raj Raval, M.D.
- Board Certified
- Interventional Pain & Musculoskeletal Medicine Specialist
Education & training
- SUNY Downstate PMR Residency
- Rutgers University Fellowship