A cervical spine disc protrusion occurs in the region of the spine contained in the neck and upper back. The seven cervical vertebrae (C1-C7) serve many purposes, including supporting the weight of the head and enabling the head to move up and down, side-to-side, etc. Naturally, any damage to this area can cause everyday activities to become uncomfortable and extremely painful.
A cervical disc protrusion is a condition that involves damage to one or more intervertebral discs that lie in between the C1-C7 vertebrae. Most patients, when they are told about this condition, are unaware of how spinal components work and what can happen if they are damaged. The spine is made up of a cylindrical column of bone segments called vertebrae. Between each segment is a padded disc that unites the vertebrae and lends protection and flexibility to the spine. Each vertebra contains a central hole, or foramen, which lies directly behind its cylindrical body. Together, the central foramen forms the spine’s central canal, which houses the spinal cord. Branching from the spinal cord are paired spinal nerve roots. Each spinal nerve begins in a nerve root and then traverses spaces between the vertebrae to innervate all areas of the body except the head. Anything that intrudes on nerve spaces also might impinge on the nerves, causing pain, impaired movement, and loss of sensation.
What could impinge on nerve space? As we get older, the intervertebral discs begin to degenerate. The outer walls (annulus fibrosus, literally “fibrous ring”) become thin and weak and are unable to maintain their structural integrity. The inner gel-like substance of discs (nucleus pulposus, literally “pulpy center”) pushes against the weakened wall, causing the disc to bulge, protrude, or rupture. A cervical spine disc protrusion, then, is a disc that has pushed out beyond its designated perimeters and may exert pressure on the spinal nerves.
Cervical spine disc protrusion symptoms include:
- Pain that begins in the neck or upper back, then radiates through the shoulders, down the arms, and to the hands. These radiating or traveling nerve symptoms are called radiculopathy.
- Decreased range of motion in the head and neck area. Inability to fully rotate the head side-to-side or up and down.
- Loss of feeling in the neck and shoulders. Numbness can spread to the arms and hands.
- A tingling feeling, akin to “pins-and-needles” sensations, that denotes neural compression.
If you are experiencing these symptoms and your physician has diagnosed you with a disc protrusion, Laser Spine Institute might be able to help. Our surgeons perform the latest endoscopic procedures on the neck and back. Laser Spine Institute’s procedures are minimally invasive and are performed on an outpatient basis. Contact us today for a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan.