Cervical disk prolapse
A prolapsed cervical disc is generally used as another name for a herniated disc in the cervical (upper) region of the spine. A disc prolapse typically refers to an early-stage herniated disc where the outer wall has not fully ruptured. It occurs among the seven top-most vertebrae of the spine, which are abbreviated C1 to C7. Although disc prolapse 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 is an important step toward getting the treatment needed to return to the quality of life you deserve.
Prolapsed cervical disc causes
A herniated or prolapsed disc can occur due to traumatic injury or result from typical 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 fibrous outer wall. Eventually, the wall can tear, causing inner material to be pushed into the spinal canal.
When this happens, there is a chance that extruded disc material 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 pain, tingling, sensation loss and muscle weakness throughout the upper body, arms and hands. 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:
- Upper back
- Deltoid muscles
- Head (migraine symptoms)