A bulging disc in the neck can cause a variety of symptoms that vary from patient to patient, even when the same nerve root is being compressed. Localized pain in the cervical or upper spine may be sharp and stabbing or dull and radiating. In both cases, the discomfort can be intense enough to make turning the head difficult or impossible. Other common symptoms include headaches, blurry vision, shoulder pain, a loss of fine motor skills in the fingers, a weakened grip and numbness, tingling or burning sensations anywhere along the path of the affected nerve.
If you suspect you have a bulging disc in your neck, the first step is to discuss the matter with your primary care physician, who will conduct an in-office examination and order one or more imaging tests to determine the exact location of the compressed nerve root. Once this has been determined, a treatment strategy can be devised to help manage or alleviate your symptoms. Conservative therapies for a bulging disc in the neck may include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — either over-the-counter or prescribed
- Physical therapy and exercise — to strengthen muscles and increase flexibility
- Cervical traction — to reduce pressure on the nerve root
- Chiropractic manipulation — to address vertebral misalignments
- Wearing a brace or collar — to stabilize the neck
- Cervical epidural steroid injections — to relieve pain and reduce swelling
- Posture modification — to keep the spine in proper alignment
In many cases, patients can achieve significant pain relief through a combination of these treatment options. Sometimes, however, surgery may be necessary to relieve pressure on a nerve root. Depending on the severity of the compression, this can be done by removing a portion of the bulging disc, increasing the opening through which the nerve passes as it exits the spinal canal or removing the damaged disc altogether and fusing the two adjacent vertebrae into one.
At USA Spine Care, we are the leader in minimally invasive surgeries that require a less than 1-inch incision and are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back procedures. If you’ve been diagnosed with a bulging disc in your neck and conservative strategies have failed to sufficiently reduce or eliminate your symptoms, you may be a candidate for our outpatient surgeries. Contact us today to find out how you can obtain a free MRI review* to begin the screening process.