Are you experiencing pain and numbness in the neck? Between each vertebra, lie rubbery cushions called discs. Much like a jelly doughnut, these structures are tougher on the outside and soft & cushy on the inside. Sometimes when persistent pressure is placed on the spine, a herniated disc can develop. This means that some of the interior material has ruptured through its casing. In severe cases, free fragment can ensue – which means that a piece of damaged disc has broken off into the spinal canal.
The harsh hands of time, and general “wear-and-tear” can both lead to disk degeneration. However, this disorder is much more prevalent in the lumbar spine, which suffers from the most distress in daily life – whether it be due to a strenuous occupation, or participation in sports. As we get older, proper hydration within the body is vital for staving off a variety of musculoskeletal disorders. Dehydrated muscles are rigid and prone to tearing, especially among the 30-50 age demographic.
The location of your pain, numbness, or weakness reveals a lot about your possible rupture. Arm and shoulder pain is a telltale sign of a cervical, or neck herniated disc. Turn your neck to the side; do you feel a shooting pain in your shoulder blade? Perhaps, you have suffered from muscle spasms – the tightening & clenching of those sinewy fibers? Frequent headaches & weakness are other possible indicators of ruptured discs.
The only true way to identify your condition is to pay a visit to an orthopaedic specialist. Trained to diagnose and treat a variety of musculoskeletal disorders, the experts at Orthopaedic Associates offer many conservative & surgical methods for remedying this and other ailments.
In an initial visit, your physician will ask you a series of questions about your medical history to retrieve helpful hints about your spine health. When it comes to herniated discs, an MRI is typically the first-line mode of diagnostic. It’s preferred by physicians because it can provide a detailed picture of the affected nerve endings.
When further sleuth work is required to diagnose the source of spinal issues, your physician may recommend a myelography. According to the American Society of Neuroradiology, this method involves injecting contrast dye into the patient’s spinal canal to visualize “fluoroscopic” images of the vertebrae and surrounding areas.
Your orthopaedic doctor may recommend a specific dosage of anti-inflammatory medication (such as an NSAID) – which can alleviate some of the pressure placed on the damaged discs. Don’t underestimate the power of physical therapy. From neck extensions to lateral bends, there are a variety of exercises and stretches you can do to soothe neck pain caused by a bulging or herniated disc. Just be sure to heed the advice of a professional before starting any routine, as doing movements improperly may exacerbate an existing problem.
It’s time to give pain the cold shoulder once and for all. For more information, or to schedule a consultation, call Orthopaedic Associates at 440-892-1440.