Do you have problems with your neck? Do you feel pins and needles in your arms or fingers? One of the many causes can be spinal disc herniation.
For a better picture what exactly is spinal disc herniation and when to start to deal with this problem, it is optional to know a little more about the cervical spine. Cervical spine is composed from anatomical structures like: vertebra, muscles, tendons and small joints. Each soft tissue contains nerve fibers. In between each vertebra (except for the first two) is cartilagous intervertebral disc, which joins the two vertebrae together. It is made of a solid outer fibrous ring (anulus fibrosus) which surrounds the gel-like center (nucleus pulposus). Degenerative process, incorrect posture, sudden impacts or pressure can wear out the discs and cause a rupture of the inner layer and push out the gel-like core and cause a herniation. The presence of the gel in the spinal canal can cause a pressure on the roots of the spinal nerves and thus irritate the nerve endings in the arms. This creates uncomfortable feeling, tingling, or pain in the arms and fingers.
SYMPTOMS WHICH CAN SIGNALIZE THE SPINAL DISC HERNIATION:
- Pain in the cervical spine goes into the shoulder.
- Pain in the arm
- Insensitivity or tingling in the arms and hands
There can be two types of pain:
Dull, stabbing pain, hard to locate.
Piercing, burning, sharp pain and easy to locate.
The pain gets worse during coughing, certain movement, or staying longer time in one position.
Pain in the neck and arm area doesn’t have to necessarily mean herniation!
The pain changes according to the area of the pressure and it forms various syndromes:
- Acute blockage of the cervical spine
- Chronic neck pain
- Cervicocranial syndrome
- Cervicobrachial syndrome
- Cervicovestibular syndrome
- Cervical root syndrome
- Pain in the thoracic spine
- Various other problems
WHAT LEADS TO HERNIATION?
- Losing the elasticity of the ligament system which secures the stability of the spine.
- Incorrect neck and head position resulting in wrong body posture.
- Disproportionate overload, injury.
- Degenerative changes of the disc, loss of flexibility and decrease of water with older age.
- Significant muscle imbalance.
HOW TO REVEAL THE HERNIATION OF THE DISC?
Disc herniation can be diagnosed in many ways. Diagnosis can be revealed by medical imaging methods, which the most guaranteed way of determining a correct diagnosis:
- CT - computed tomography,
- MRI - magnetic resonance imaging,
It is also suitable to include clinical tests, which are performed by rehabilitation doctor, orthopedist or physiotherapist.
The condition of the person is based on these complexive examinations, and it indicates the process of treatment. More than 95% of patients with spinal disc herniation will reach relief without the surgical treatment through physiotherapy, medicaments, physical therapy and chiropractic.
Surgery is often the last option. Traditional process is spinal fusion. By using bone grafting and external fixation like splint and screws which leads to fusion, strong connection between two or more vertebrae. That leads to stabilization of the spine and relief from pain. Potential disadvantage connected to this type of operation is the loss of mobility and flexibility in the treated area of the vertebra. Artificial disc implantation is also an alternative. Artificial disc is designed to keep the movement and it adapts in the stead of the replaced disc which was removed from the spine.
We have positive rehabilitation results with treating the disc herniation by using focused shock wave therapy at our modern center FYZIOklinika. It has a metabolic effect (increased basic activity of the cells), as well as analgesic effect (painkilling). In manual therapy we have results with many methods, such as mechanical therapy according to McKenzie, acral coactivation therapy according to Špringrová, DNS method according to Kolář, mobilization techniques according to Lewit and others. Therapy is supported by kinesio taping, which brings a complexive relief from pain, and allows person to return to daily life.
Author: FYZIOklinika physiotherapy Ltd., Prague, Czech Republic