How Serious Is a Herniated Disc in the Neck?

Herniated or slipped discs commonly occur in people 30 to 50 years old. When a herniated disc happens, some people may not feel any symptoms. At the same time, others experience persistent symptoms for a long time. Whether symptoms are present or not, most herniated discs don’t heal independently and may worsen over time, necessitating further treatment.

An orthopedic spine doctor at NJ Spine & Orthopedic can help you if you’re experiencing pain or other symptoms resulting from a herniated disc in your neck. Our skilled team and Concierge Team can make sure you get the treatment you need in order to reduce pain, mitigate symptoms, and get back to living your life without issue.


What Are the Symptoms of a Herniated Disc?

If symptoms of a herniated disc are present, they will usually only occur on one side of the body. Because herniated discs typically occur in the lumbar or lower vertebrae, they can create pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the lower back, buttocks, legs and feet, especially when standing or sitting, bending backward, or walking a short distance.

It’s not unheard of to have herniated discs in the cervical vertebrae, which controls the neck. Any herniated discs in this area will also cause pain, numbness, and tingling in the neck, shoulders, arms, and hands. You may notice these symptoms mainly when sneezing, coughing, or laughing, which may interfere with daily life.

Can Herniated Discs Cause More Severe Problems If Not Treated?

Once a disc becomes herniated, it can never repair or heal on its own without treatment. However, when a disc is first herniated, it may produce pain that may eventually recede, or you may only feel the pain when doing certain activities.

This experience doesn’t mean that the herniated disc is repaired. It means that the portion of the herniated disc pressing upon a nerve has diminished in size due to being absorbed into the body or attacked by the immune system as a foreign object. And it also doesn’t mean no other problems won’t occur from the remaining bulging disc.

Other patient experiences with herniated discs are that the condition can cause more significant problems if left untreated. Acute pain can change into chronic pain for weeks or months. In addition, nerve damage can occur that will cause loss of sensation or paralysis. If the ruptured disk is located in the lumbar vertebrae and causes nerve damage, this can cause a loss of functions such as bowel or bladder control. In addition, traditional treatments may not be possible for herniated discs that are left untreated for a long time.

Treatments Available for Herniated Discs

Epidural steroid injections can reduce inflammation when injected directly into the painful area. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make the herniated disc smaller, but it still works on the affected nerves by flushing away the proteins that cause the inflammation. In addition, doctors will often recommend physical therapy or therapeutic exercises to help with movements that won’t continually cause friction between the nerve or disc, reducing the swelling and giving the disc time to heal. 

Surgery is the last resort. If a lumbar discectomy is necessary, the surgeon will remove a portion or all of the gelatinous inner core bulging outside the disc. This procedure will create space between the disc and the nerve it affects.

After the discectomy, the surgeon can perform a spinal fusion, fusing the two vertebrae on either side of the disk. This fusion will stabilize that portion of the spine and prevent you from experiencing more pain. Instead of spinal fusion, the surgeon may replace the disc with a prosthetic disc made of metal and plastic.

Call a Professional at NJ Spine & Orthopedic Today

If you are experiencing persistent pain and symptoms due to a herniated disc, the orthopedic medical professionals at NJ Spine & Orthopedic can perform an exam and conduct an MRI scan to confirm the existence of a herniated disc and get you the treatment you need in order to reduce pain or other symptoms.

NJ Spine & Orthopedic has an award-winning team of spine surgeons and medical staff specializing in spine disorder treatments and minimally-invasive surgery. If you are experiencing moderate to severe back pain and need relief, call us at (866) 553-0612 or complete our contact form.

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