What is a cervical herniated disc?
To correctly understand the traumatological injury of cervical herniated disc (in the neck) it is important to highlight the part of our body in which it occurs, the spine. This, in addition to being the support of the boot, a protector of the spinal cord, and a point of attachment for the muscles of the back and ribs, has the so-called cervical discs that reduce the impact of everyday actions such as walking and running or jumping. It is in this part of the spine that the herniated disc occurs and, specifically in the discs of the neck, the pathology that we are going to develop next, the cervical herniated disc.
The spinal disc is the cartilaginous structure that is located between two vertebrae, cushioning and distributing the various loads to which our spine is exposed, and acting as a point of union between one vertebral body and the adjacent one. This disc is made up of two main parts: on the one hand, an external fibrous ring formed by collagen, very similar to the concentric layers of an onion, and on the other, the nucleus pulposus, a soft tissue structure located in the central. Starting in the second decade of life, the annulus fibrosus gradually degenerates, producing fissures in the concentric layers that we discussed earlier, protrusions, and herniated discs.
What are the causes of cervical herniated disc?
A cervical herniated disc is caused by a ruptured disc and a displacement of the nucleus pulposus, and it is a pathology that, on many occasions, can prevent us from leading a normal life. This may be due to causes such as age, improper weight gain, falls, or blows, the latter two being less frequent reasons. In any case, either a protrusion or a complete rupture can be generated that would lead to an external exit of the nucleus pulposus and the consequent compression of the spinal cord and nerve roots.
Symptoms of the cervical herniated disc
The symptoms of the cervical herniated disc are detailed below. It is very important to identify these in time to go to our specialist as soon as possible and thus guarantee the best treatment and recovery:
Radiculopathy: the hernia compresses a nerve root and causes cervicobrachialgia, pain in the neck transmitted through the shoulder, arm, and fingers. It is a continuous ailment that causes nocturnal disorders such as insomnia, tingling in the arm and/or hand (paresthesia), and in a more aggravated state, decreased sensitivity (hypoaesthesia) and strength, and dizziness.
Myelopathy: in this case, the compressed part is the spinal cord and more serious symptoms are generated such as gait disturbance, sphincter involvement, or abnormalities in force sensitivity in lower and upper extremities.
What is the treatment for the cervical herniated disc?
For the diagnosis of the cervical herniated disc, it is necessary to take a detailed clinical history that coincides with the patient's examination and all the complementary tests: cervical radiography, magnetic resonance imaging and electromyogram. In some cases, a non-surgical treatment based on physiotherapy and rehabilitation can be established.
In the most serious cases, the cervical herniated disc operation will be chosen. The traditional treatment for cervical herniated discs is arthrodesis (fusion of the vertebrae) with plates and bone grafts. This involves a loss of harmonious mobility of the spine and degeneration of the adjacent discs that, in the short or medium term, can translate into new disc herniations or cervical arthrodesis. Likewise, after arthrodesis surgery, a period of immobilization with a collar is required and, in some cases, the plates even have to be removed due to discomfort when swallowing, friction with the esophagus, or inability of the bones to fuse (pseudarthrosis).
Dr. Elgeadi's trauma team avoids the complications of arthrodesis by using advanced endoscopic spine surgery (cervical disc prosthesis) for the treatment of cervical disc herniation, thus preserving the physiological movement of the spine. An approach of about two 2 centimeters is made in the neck, following the wrinkle of the cervical flexure, the disc and the hernia that compresses the nerve root and/or the spinal cord are removed (discectomy) and it is replaced by a disc prosthesis with which maintains mobility and prevents neck limitations.
After the arthroplasty, the patient is discharged in just 24 hours and does not require any immobilization with a collar, being able to move the neck from the awakening from anesthesia without restrictions. If you need more information about the cervical herniated disc, or you think that this pathology may be your case, do not hesitate to make an appointment with Dr. Elgeadi so that he can help you.