Cervical Disc Prolapse

A prolapsed disc is also known as a herniated or 'slipped' disc, and is used to describe the condition when the central part of a disc is pushed out and  this can then press on a nerve root which causes nerve or neurogenic symptoms. In the neck this is usually felt as pain, tingling, numbness or stabbing sensations in the shoulder, upper arm, forearm or hand depending on which nerve is being touched. It can also give pain between the shoulder blades.

Very often the prolapse or 'slip' can happen spontaneously, where the cause is unclear. Sometimes trauma or working with the neck in an unusual position may play a part.  However, it is known that smoking impacts on the health of your discs as the chemicals prevent the nutrients and oxygen from entering the discs which causes degeneration so in the first instance Mr Cass will strongly advise you to stop smoking.

Mr Cass can usually pinpoint which level of the spine is affected directly from your symptoms and any examination of you, but an MRI will usually be performed to confirm this.

Very often the symptoms can  be managed conservatively with suitable analgesia, usually in the form of a nerve stabilising medicine, an anti-inflammatory andoccasionally  a muscle relaxant. Mr Cass may also refer you to a physiotherapist.  Mr Cass may sometimes discuss with you trying a nerve block, where steroid is injected around the disc & nerve to calm the situation down.

Sometimes however if the pain is so severe, there is any significant weakness of the arm or hand muscles, or if the spinal cord itself is being affected,  then Mr Cass may suggest surgery to alleviate the pressure directly on the nerve. Typically this would likely be either an anterior cervical decompression & fusion or a disc replacement.

All of these options would be carefully discussed with you by Mr Cass, who would use his experience & knowledge of the current evidence to give you the facts & information to make an informed decision on how you would like to be treated.

If you would like to make an appointment with Mr Cass to discuss your condition, please contact his Practice Manager on 01273 828098.

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