Sunday, December 16, 2018

Brain & Spine Disorders

Cervical Disc Disease

Located between each vertebrae (bone) in the neck is a piece of gelatinous material called the cervical disc. These discs are the shock absorbers of the head and neck. They act as a cushion between the bones and allow bending movements of the head and neck. There are normally six discs in the neck. When a disc ruptures through its surrounding fibrous band, it is called a disc herniation.

Signs and Symptoms

The herniated piece of the disc may then pinch on a nerve, possibly causing one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Limited movement of the head or neck.
  • Painful movement of the head or neck.
  • Pain, tingling or numbness in the shoulder, arm or hand
  • Weakness in the arm, shoulder or hand.


As we age, the discs gradually become dry and flattened. Eventually, the disc space becomes narrow and the vertebrae begin to touch one another. This is known as degenerative disc disease. The narrower the space between the bones, the less room the nerve has to travel. The nerves may then become irritated, resulting in pain, numbness, tingling or weakness in the arm or hand.

Diagnostic Tests

If your health-care provider suspects you have cervical disc herniation or cervical disc disease, you may need a thorough medical history and physical exam plus one or more of the following:

  • CT scan: A computerized form of X-ray pictures of the neck
  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): Non-X-ray pictures of the neck (notify the radiologist if you are uncomfortable in small, tight spaces)
  • Myelogram/CT: Water soluble dye is injected into the spinal space, and X-rays are taken of the neck
  • EMG (Electromyogram): Study of the nerve function in the arms or hands

Risk Reduction 

  • Perform gentle stretching and bending of your neck.
  • Maintain good posture while sitting and walking.
  • Avoid slouching in a chair or bed.
  • Always wear a seat belt while in the car.
  • Place a pillow under your head and neck when lying in bed.
  • Avoid or stop smoking.
  • Always lift heavy objects with proper posture, using your legs to do most of the work.

Neck Pain (Overview)

Neck Pain & Disorders (Cervical Spine)

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