Hernia of the cervical spine – diagnosis and treatment

The spine has two of the most mobile parts: the cervical and lumbar. The second of them, according to statistics, is the most susceptible to degenerative damage and their consequences – hernias. The cervical spine also tends to have pathologies, but relatively less often.

The cervical area of ​​the spine has features: arteries pass through the openings of the transverse processes on both sides. This suggests that abnormalities in the neck area can pose particular health risks.

The vertebrae of this section are relatively small, the muscular corset is poorly developed. Given the high degree of mobility of the neck and its other features, conditions can be created for health problems – the formation of protrusions.

Reasons for the formation of an intervertebral hernia in the cervical spine

The intervertebral disc has a dense membrane and a gelatinous soft core. Squeezing the membrane without violating its integrity or rupture of fibrous fibers with the protrusion of a part of the disc nucleus outside the membrane is called a hernia of the ridge.

This pathology leads to:

  • Violation of metabolic processes in the tissues of the spine. Insufficient cell nutrition creates conditions for tissue aging, including in the intervertebral discs. As a result, they become prone to deformities and pathologies.
  • Traumatic injuries of the spine can move the disc from its natural dislocation or even disrupt its integrity.
  • Poor posture is a long-term factor that gives an inharmonious load on the elements of the ridge.
  • Hereditary predisposition can incline the body to destructive processes leading to a hernia.
  • Work that involves serious physical activity or sedentary (office worker) are equally provoking factors.
  • Age-related phenomenon: tissue aging initiates degenerative processes.
  • Hypothermia creates conditions for the occurrence of pathologies in the cervical spine.
  • Smoking creates oxygen starvation of tissues, which worsens their condition and makes them vulnerable to injury.

Symptoms and signs of the disease

If the bulging part of the nucleus of the disc does not touch the radicular nerves, then there may be no pain in the neck. The hernia will manifest itself through other symptoms.


The cervical area consists of seven vertebrae. There will be different symptoms from the location of the problem.

  • The hernia is located after the seventh vertebra. Little finger grows numb, weakness is felt in the hand.
  • A hernia often forms between the sixth and seventh vertebrae. Tingling discomfort on the line from the forearm to the middle finger.
  • The most common hernia is between the sixth and fifth vertebrae. Thumb feels pain or numbness. Feeling of weakness in the shoulders and muscles of the arm.
  • A hernia between the fourth and fifth vertebrae – pain and weakness in the shoulder.

A hernia often forms in the discs after the fourth vertebra. Symptoms may vary slightly from person to person.

If the protrusion produces pressure on the spinal cord, then the patient may experience:

  • clumsiness of gait, staggering,
  • intense headaches that may appear if the neck was in an uncomfortable position,
  • lack of coordination of hands and feet,
  • dizziness.

Common complaints of patients with a hernia in the neck area:

  • numbness in hands, weakness,
  • pain in the neck,
  • memory impairment
  • insomnia,
  • “Goose bumps”:
    • on the back (in the upper part of it),
    • neck,
    • hands,
    • face,
    • head,
  • decrease in the range of motion of the neck,
  • unstable blood pressure.

Why is disc herniation dangerous?

If the protruding part of the nucleus of the disc presses the spinal cord, then at best, numbness in the hands and their weakness occur. In the worst case, paralysis is possible.

Compression of herniated arteries is fraught with a deterioration in the blood supply to the brain and can cause a stroke.

In the case of compression of the radicular nerve, it depends on which organ it controls. This body will function worse.

Radiculitis of the neck is possible. When the nerve roots are squeezed, paralysis of the limbs can occur until complete immobilization.

Herniated discs in the neck area can have serious consequences. Therefore, when its signs appear, it is necessary to consult a doctor as soon as possible for advice and treatment.


An effective and ultra-modern method of examination with a magnetic resonance imaging scanner. This study is informative and harmless. Gives information:

  • about the localization of the hernia and its size,
  • what is the condition of the hernia,
  • other details of the pathology.


Diagnosis of a hernia by the method of computer diagnostics is rarely used. This method involves the introduction of a contrast agent directly into the canal of the spinal cord, which carries some danger.

How to cure

The method of treatment is chosen based on the results of the examination.

  1. In most cases, a comprehensive wellness program is used, which consists of two stages:
    1. They relieve an acute condition with the help of drug therapy.
      • Painful syndrome and inflammation are removed with non-steroidal drugs .
      • Sometimes muscle relaxants are used if it is necessary to relieve muscle spasm.
      • Maintain the condition of the cartilage tissue with chondroprotectors and vitamins.
    2. When the course of the disease goes into remission, they switch to methods:
      • physiotherapy,
      • physiotherapy,
      • hirudotherapy,
      • manual therapy,
      • folk recipes,
      • massage,
      • wearing a corset,
      • acupuncture.
  2. If a comprehensive treatment program does not bring relief, then an epidural block is performed. It provides for the introduction of steroids into the area of ​​the problem. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia with a special syringe under the supervision of a fluoroscope and usually brings relief. The epidural block is repeated two weeks later.
  3. If the diagnosis has shown a dangerous compression of the spinal cord or nerve root, then surgery is recommended.
    The hernia is removed through an incision in the neck. As a result, either the disc is replaced, keeping the mobility of the vertebrae, or the vertebrae grow together. The method that provides minimal intervention in the body is micro endoscopic discectomy. Produced under the supervision of a microscope with microinstruments.

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