Prolapsed cervical disc overview

A prolapsed cervical disc in the neck region of the spine refers to the early-stage of a herniated disc, where the outer wall has not fully ruptured. It occurs among the seven uppermost vertebrae of the spine, which are abbreviated C1 to C7. Although a prolapsed cervical disc is more common in the lower back, the C4 to C7 levels of the cervical spine are also vulnerable to disc prolapse as the body ages.

The resulting symptoms of this condition can be very painful and debilitating, taking you away from your family, affecting your daily routine and even your ability to get a good night’s sleep. Learning more about the causes, symptoms and treatment options, through the following article, is an important step toward getting the treatment needed to return you to the quality of life you deserve.

Prolapsed cervical disc causes

A prolapsed disc can occur due to traumatic injury or from degenerative changes that occur in the body as we age. As the water content in spinal discs begins to diminish throughout the years, discs lose their elasticity. Everyday neck and back movements can squeeze a brittle disc, which forces the disc’s gel-like nucleus against the sides of the disc’s tough outer wall. Eventually, the wall can tear, causing the inner material to be pushed into the spinal canal.

When this happens, there is a chance that the disc material that was pushed out can compress an adjacent nerve root or the spinal cord. This isn’t always the case with a prolapsed cervical disc, but when nerve irritation occurs within the cervical spine, it can cause a bowel or bladder dysfunction as well as pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness. The location of nerve compression determines the location where prolapsed disc symptoms are experienced.

A prolapsed cervical disc can produce symptoms in the following areas of the body:

  • Head (migraine symptoms)
  • Diaphragm
  • Upper body
  • Arms
  • Wrists
  • Hands
  • Fingers

Prolapsed cervical disc treatment

Many patients with a prolapsed cervical disc, as well as a prolapsed lumbar disc or a prolapsed thoracic disc in the lower and middle spine, can manage their symptoms through nonsurgical methods. Upon diagnosis, most doctors will recommend a course of conservative treatments including physical therapy, chiropractic manipulation, pain medication, range of motion exercises and rest. If chronic pain persists after weeks or months of conservative treatment, a doctor may recommend seeing if you are a potential candidate for surgical intervention, such as the muscle-sparing procedures offered at Laser Spine Institute.

Laser Spine Institute is the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, ^ which is an alternative to traditional open spine procedures and the difficulties that can come with them. By using a less than 1-inch incision, our board-certified surgeons+ can perform a cervical decompression on an outpatient basis. This procedure has less risk of complication than traditional open neck surgeries and can help relieve pressure on the nerve root that is causing your chronic pain and discomfort.

Contact Laser Spine Institute today for a no-cost MRI review,* so our dedicated team can help you make an informed decision about which treatment option is best for you.