A cervical bulging disc is a condition in which a bulging disc is located in the upper, or neck area of the spine. Most cervical bulging discs are asymptomatic. However, if the bulging disc places pressure on a neighboring spinal nerve, symptoms follow. The symptoms will most likely be felt in the neck, shoulders, scapular area, arms, forearms and hands. It is important to note that, although a very rare occurrence, a cervical bulging disc can carry with it extra dangers. In some rare extreme cases, a bulging cervical disc may compress the spinal cord, leading to paralysis. Therefore, if you believe you have a bulging disc in the neck or anywhere in the spine, you should seek the advice of a physician.
The cervical (or neck) area of the spine consists of seven vertebrae labeled C1-C7. Each of these vertebrae is cushioned by round discs that serve as shock absorbers. They maintain cervical stability while allowing neck flexibility. With age, the outer fibrous portions of spinal discs desiccate. This decreases elasticity and increases vulnerability to injury. If a disc weakens, outward pressure from the disc core may stretch the outer fibrous rim and cause the disc to bulge. With further stretching, the disc protrusion may tear or rupture. When core material escapes through the tear into the area around the disc, the condition is called a herniated disc. When either bulging disc or herniated disc material places pressure on surrounding nervous tissue, symptoms result.
Cervical disc bulging is primarily caused by aging. With aging, it is usual for the discs in our neck and back to weaken and bulge. If the bulging disc presses upon nerves in the neck, the following symptoms can develop in the neck, scapular area, shoulders, arms, wrists, hands and chest:
It is common for the pain and tingling of a cervical bulging disc to radiate through the shoulders, scapular area, arms, forearms, hands and fingers. Rarely, weakness and tingling can occur in the legs and other parts of the body when the spinal cord is compressed. People who suffer from these symptoms often find it increasingly difficult to function in daily life. For those who want relief from their neck pain and other symptoms, physicians usually recommend medication, physical therapy, exercise, cervical traction, braces, injections and other treatments.
In certain cases, cervical bulging disc symptoms may last more than two to three months. If symptoms become prolonged or severe, surgery may be suggested. If surgery has been recommended for your bulging disc symptoms, we invite you to contact Laser Spine Institute. Inquire about our outpatient, minimally invasive procedures that may help you toward recovery.