Neck pain and symptoms caused by a herniated disc are quite common in adults.
The cushion type tissue between the bones in your neck are called intervertebral
discs. These discs are composed of a soft gel-like center and a tough
outer lining and create a joint between the bones in the spine that allows
them to move. A herniated disc occurs when the lining surrounding the
disc tears and the soft center is pushed through the opening.
A herniated disc may be caused by numerous things. The most common of which
is the simple process of aging. As we get older, the discs din our spines
can lose their flexibility and elasticity while the ligaments surrounding
the discs can become brittle and are more easily damaged or torn. Because
this can put pressure on spinal nerves (radiculopathy) or on the spinal
cord (myelopathy), it can cause painful symptoms.
The symptoms most commonly experience with a herniated disc are:
- Neck pain
- Pain that radiates down the arm
- Numbness or tingling in the arm or hand
- Weakness in the arms (definite reason to consult a specialist)
As it is not possible to detect a herniated disc with an X-ray alone, an
MRI is usually ordered to verify the diagnosis of a herniated disc especially
if the doctor suspects another condition or needs to determine which nerves
are affected. CT Scans may also be used to rule out other conditions.
A Myelogram may be used in some cases, where a dye is injected into the
spinal fluid, and then an X-ray is taken. This procedure can show pressure
on your spinal cord or nerves due to multiple herniated discs. It can
also assist in ruling out spinal cord tumors, abscesses and bony overgrowths.