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Slipped Disc in Neck

Slipped Disc in Neck

A slipped disc in the neck is medically known as a cervical disc prolapse. It tends to affect people between the ages of 30 and 50. More commonly, a slipped disc affects the back. When it occurs in the neck, it is a result of a disc that is located in the vertebrae of the neck degenerating. Severe degeneration causes the gel-like nucleus around the disc to prolapse out of the disc.

Detailed Overview

Symptoms

This condition can cause sufferers to experience a lot of neck pain, which may necessitate the need for neck support aids. The pain can also radiate down the shoulder and arm. Movements of the neck and back can make the pain worse, and even simple actions such as sneezing or coughing can exacerbate the pain. Some sufferers also experience pins and needles in the hands. Muscle spasms in the neck may also be felt.

The severity of the neck pain associated with a slipped disc in the neck can vary. Some people may find the pain so intense it can affect their day-to-day lives, whereas others may find that they have no pain in the neck but experience muscle weakness or pain in the arm only.

Causes

In most cases, a slipped disc in the neck is caused by overuse of the neck, with repeated movements that lead to disc degeneration. This is usually as a result of a type of work activity where the neck is used a lot, but even sitting at a computer for long periods of time may place extra stress and pressure on the neck and back.

When neck pain strikes, the sufferer should visit their GP, who will be able to make a diagnosis on the basis of the symptoms. In some cases, an MRI scan is performed to help confirm a diagnosis.

Treatment

There are various treatment options available for sufferers of neck pain associated with a cervical disc prolapse. Medication such as painkillers and anti-inflammatory tablets may help to ease the pain, and resting the neck is often advised. Many sufferers find the use of neck support products very helpful. For instance, a neck collar offers neck support and promotes warmth to the neck, which can aid in healing. A neck pain pillow can support correct neck alignment when lying in bed. Heat packs and massage therapy are useful to alleviate pain and muscle spasms. Traction therapy, where an upward pulling force is applied to lengthen the neck and reduce pressure on the discs, is a popular method in treating a slipped disc in the neck. It is thought this procedure can help to shrink the prolapsed disc material back into place, removing pressure on the nerve roots.

Most cases of a slipped disc in the neck improve within a matter of weeks or months. As pain eases, normal activity using the neck should be introduced very gradually. Surgery is rarely required, and only in those cases where conventional treatments have not relieved the pain or when the pain is so severe it affects daily life.

Patients are advised to seek medical expert opinion as to the most appropriate form of treatment to alleviate their neck pain symptoms. For some, neck support aids may be all that is required, while for others a multi-approach treatment strategy may involve various methods.