Friday, March 6, 2009

How to treat and diagnose a Herniated Disc in the Neck

A herniated disc can also be referred to as a ruptured disc, and a slipped disc. It occurs when disc which is located between two bones puts pressure on a nerve. This pressure in turn can cause the neck pain, the arm pain and symptoms of numbness and tingling. The two most common levels where a cervical disc can herniated is C5-C6 and C6-C7. So if for example a patient has a C5-C6 disc herniation, the disc is affect the C6 nerve root.

Symptoms of a Herniated Disc
A herniated disc presents as constant neck pain. You can also have pain traveling into your arms and hand with numbess and tingling as well. Depending on the level that is affected a cervical disc herniation can present in different ways:

* C4/C5 Disc herniation: This affects the distribution of the C5 nerve root. It can cause the deltoid muscle to be weak and also can cause shoulder pain. This affects the lateral upper arm. It usually does not cause numbness and tingling.
* C5/C6 Disc herniation: This affects the distribution of the C6 nerve root. It can cause numbness and tingling in the lower lateral arm, affecting the thumb and index finger. The muscles affected are the biceps and the wrist extensor muscles.
* C6/C7: This affects the distribution of the C7 nerve root. It can cause numbness and tingling along the 3rd digit (the long finger) and the triceps muscle. It can affect the triceps muscle causing numbess and tingling.
* C7/T1: This affects the distribution of the T1 nerve root. It can cause weakness including the ability to squeeze and hold on to objects. Numbness and tingling and pain can radiate down the arm to the little finger side of hand.

How to Diagnose a Disc Issue

First, a neurological examination that focuses on sensory, motor and relex testing is important.A cervical MRI is the best diagnostic tool to show if there is a disc issue.
How to Treat Herniated Disc
There are many treatments available to treat a herniated disc in the neck. Most people think of surgery, but there are many effective non surgical options with little side effects. Try traction for your neck- a gentle stretch in the neck can aid in some neck pain relief. Either you could use a special traction pillow or cervical traction unit to acheive this. Before starting traction, have your neck examined- an x-ray can pinpoint some important diagnosis information as well. A good cervical pillow such as the cervical traction neck pillow will help as well. Sleeping on 2 pillows may be too much and can actually cause you to have a stiff neck with more pain than you started with. Your Doctor may recommend a few treatment options to you; Perhaps cortisone injections, physical therapy, chiropractic, traction therapy, or maybe (depending on the severity) even surgery. Just know that there are non surgical options out there for you to try. For example, traction for the neck using a home cervical traction unit could really help you out. Click here for step by step home traction protocol using the Pronex Pneumatic Traction Unit. A traction pillow may also help you out at night to sleep. Finally, there is a treatment called non surgical spinal decompression using the Drx9000C for the cervical disc herniations. Spinal Decompression uses state of the art technology to apply a distraction force to relieve nerve compression in the neck.

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