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How to treat and diagnose a Herniated Disc in the Neck
A herniated disc can also be referred to as a ruptured disc, a bulging disc and a slipped disc. It occurs when a disc which is located between two bones puts pressure on a nerve. It "slips" out of place, or bulges, creating pressure on the nerve root. This pressure in turn can cause neck pain, shooting painsarm pain and symptoms of numbness and tingling. The skin overlying these nerve roots can feel different. Finally, a patient can have weakness in the nerve root that is affected.
The two most common levels where a cervical disc can herniated is C5-C6 and C6-C7.If a patient has been diagnosed with a C5-C6 disc herniation, the disc is affected the C6 nerve root.
Symptoms of a Herniated Disc
A herniated disc or bulging disc can present as constant neck pain and other types of shooting pains. You can also have pain traveling into your arms and hands with numbess and tingling as well. Depending on the level that is affected a cervical disc herniation can present in different ways. Lets look at the different levels in the neck to see how the symptoms can appear:
How to Diagnose a Disc Issue in the Neck
Pain may or may not be the first symptom that a patient feels if they have a disc herniation. They may have a stiff neck, arm pain or a shooting pain that follows a particular path (such as into the index finger) . This pain can prevent one from completing their activities of daily living and it can be very annoying. <b>How do we know what level of disk is affected in the neck?</b> Like we said above, a nerve root has three components: <i>sensory, motor and reflex</i>. A neurological examination that focuses on sensory, motor and reflex testing is important in diagnosing a cervical disk herniation. Furthermore, a special type of x-ray called an MRI is the best diagnostic tool to show if there is a disc issue in the neck.
Herniated Disc in the Neck
How to Treat A Herniated Disk in the Neck
There are many treatments available to treat a herniated disc in the neck. Most people think of surgery, but there are many effective non surgical options with little side effects. Try traction for your neck- a gentle stretch in the neck can aid in some neck pain relief. Either you could use a special traction pillow or cervical traction unit (such as the Cervical Traction Posture Pump 1000) to acheive this. Before starting traction, have your neck examined- an x-ray can pinpoint some important diagnosis information as well. A good cervical pillow such as the cervical traction neck pillow will help as well. Sleeping on 2 pillows may be too much and can actually cause you to have a stiff neck with more pain than you started with.
Many of our patients complete a neck traction protocol during the day (they do this usually 3-4 times a week, for 10-15 minutes at a time). At night, they maintain the traction by using the arc4life traction pillow. This special pillow has a "V" on the one side, that gives the cervical spine a gentle stretch, which allows for the nerve roots to have less pressure. Again, follow what your Doctor, physical therapist or health professional has recommended. Traction is not always recommended, so check with your Doctor before beginning any type of traction session.
Your Doctor may recommend a few treatment options to you; Perhaps cortisone injections, physical therapy, chiropractic, traction therapy, or maybe (depending on the severity) even surgery. Just know that there are non surgical options out there for you to try.
For example, traction for the neck using a home cervical traction unit could really help you out. Click here for step by step home traction protocol using the Pronex Pneumatic Traction Unit. Another popular neck traction unit is called the posture pump 1000. A traction pillow may also help you out at night to sleep. Finally, there is a alternative treatment for disc herniations called non surgical spinal decompression using the Drx9000C for the cervical disc herniations. Spinal Decompression uses state of the art technology to apply a distraction force to relieve nerve compression in the neck.Find out if there is a Doctor in your area who offers this treatment.
Treatment For A Herniated Disk or Slipped Disk
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