Cervical Bulging Disc (Neck)
A cervical bulging disc is a degenerative spinal condition that develops in the neck. The cervical, or neck, region of the spine consists of seven vertebrae described as C1-C7. Except for the first two cervical vertebrae located directly under the skull — C1 and C2 (the atlas and axis, respectively) — cervical vertebrae are cushioned by round intervertebral discs that serve as shock absorbers, maintain cervical stability and facilitate neck mobility. Over time, as part of the natural aging process, the fibrous outer walls of these spinal discs gradually become dehydrated and lose their elasticity, which increases the discs’ vulnerability to injury. In a weakened disc, outward pressure from the inner core can stretch the outer fibrous rim and cause the disc to bulge beyond its normal boundaries, sometimes to the point of tearing or rupturing.
Symptoms of a bulging disc in the neck
A cervical bulging disc is typically asymptomatic. However, if bulging disc material places excessive pressure on a nearby nerve root or the spinal cord itself, uncomfortable symptoms can result, such as:
- Difficulty walking, especially at a fast pace
- A heaviness in the legs
- Loss of fine motor skills in the fingers
If a nerve root is compressed, symptoms of pain, numbness, muscle weakness and tingling are most often felt in the neck, shoulders, scapular area, arms, forearms and hands. When the spinal cord is compressed, symptoms can be felt in the pelvic region and legs. If you believe that you might have a bulging disc in your neck, you should promptly consult with a physician for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. In most cases, physicians initially recommend conservative treatments such as medication, physical therapy, exercise, cervical traction, bracing, injections and other non-surgical approaches.
When conservative treatments fail to ease cervical bulging disc symptoms
Most cervical bulging disc symptoms respond adequately to several weeks or months of conservative treatment. In rare cases in which the symptoms persist or worsen, surgery might be recommended to alleviate neural compression in the spine.
If surgery has been recommended to address your cervical bulging disc symptoms, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our highly skilled surgeons have perfected minimally invasive outpatient procedures that are effective alternatives to traditional open spine surgeries. Our dedication to minimally invasive procedures has made Laser Spine Institute the largest spine surgery center in the nation. This advantage grows every week, leading to a higher level of expertise as we help thousands of patients reclaim their active lifestyles without the disadvantages of highly invasive surgery.