WHAT IS CERVICAL DISC HERNIATIONS?
Cervical disc herniations occur when the inner soft part of the disc (called the nucleus pulposus) comes through small tears in the thicker outer part of the disc (called the annulus fibrosus). The disc material herniates into the spinal canal near the exiting nerve roots and spinal cord of the cervical spine. The herniated material causes an inflammatory response by the body and this leads to irritation of the nerve root. Pain, numbness and tingling and sometimes weakness in the arm and shoulder region is due to this nerve root irritation. These symptoms can be treated with anti-inflammatory medications, a short course of a steroid pill, and physical therapy. If these non-invasive methods are not helpful, sometimes an injection can be helpful. Surgery is a good option with high success rates if all of the non-operative methods have not helped to decrease the symptoms enough to get the patient back to his or her regular activities. Sometimes, surgery is recommended if the patient has significant muscle weakness. The surgical options include an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion and a posterior cervical foramintomy.