Cervical bulging discs — overview
A cervical bulging disc describes when a damaged disc in the cervical (upper) region of the spine bulges out of its normal radius. The cervical spine consists of seven vertebrae numbered C1-C7. Except for the first two cervical vertebrae located directly under the skull — called the atlas and axis — cervical vertebrae are cushioned by round discs that absorb shock, maintain stability and allow for neck movement.
With age, the fibrous outer walls of the discs gradually lose water and elasticity, making them less able to absorb the pressure placed on them. In a weakened disc, this pressure causes the inner core to push and stretch the outer layer, bulging the disc beyond its normal boundaries. Whether you have been diagnosed with a bulging disc or are researching conditions to find the source of your pain, educating yourself on symptoms and treatment of this condition can be an important step in getting effective treatment.
Symptoms of a bulging disc in the neck
A cervical bulging disc does not always cause symptoms. However, if bulging disc material places excessive pressure on a nearby nerve root or the spinal cord, painful symptoms can result, such as:
- Local neck pain
- Shooting pains through the shoulders and arms
- Loss of fine motor skills in the fingers
If you believe that you might have a bulging disc in your neck, you should promptly consult with your doctor for an accurate diagnosis and an initial treatment plan. In most cases, doctors will first recommend or prescribe conservative treatments such as medication, physical therapy, exercise, hot/cold compression therapy and epidural steroid injections. The goal of this type of treatment is to relieve symptoms and restore range of motion while the overall progress of the condition is monitored.
When conservative treatments fail to ease cervical bulging disc symptoms
Many patients find relief from cervical bulging disc symptoms respond adequately to several weeks or months of conservative treatment. In cases where symptoms persist or worsen after conservative treatments have been exhausted, surgery might be recommended.
If you are considering surgery to address your cervical bulging disc symptoms, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our board-certified+ surgeons perform minimally invasive spine surgery that is an alternative to traditional open neck or back procedures. By using muscle-sparing techniques we are able to use a less than 1-inch incision to access the spine and decompress nerves affected by a bulging disc. The result is an outpatient procedure that offers patients a lower risk of complications like infection and failed back surgery syndrome.
For a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute, contact one of our Spine Care Consultants today.