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Danger Signs for a Ruptured Disc in the Neck

When you experience neck pain that spreads out to your arms and shoulders, there may be a possibility that you are suffering from cervical ruptured disc (herniated disc), commonly known as slipped disc. Injury, age-related diseases or normal wear-and-tear of the spinal column may cause this condition. In some cases, the symptoms will go away even without intervention; however, symptoms may worsen that may be signs of serious complications that may require further diagnosis and treatment.

Unbearable Pain

When you suffer from ruptured or herniated disc in the neck, the most common symptom is neck pain, which radiates to the arm and shoulders. A short period of rest with pain and anti-inflammatory medications followed by physical therapy are the common treatments for ruptured disc in the neck. Most people who follow these treatments will recover and return to their normal activities. However, when pain worsens or becomes unbearable lasting for more than six weeks, you will need to have further treatment, which may include steroid injections or surgery.

Weakening of Legs with Bowel and Bladder Problems

Extreme cases of herniated disc can also give birth to another condition called cauda equina syndrome, a condition caused by the compression of the spinal nerves in the lumbar spine, otherwise known as the spinal canal. The condition is quite uncommon and, in most cases, overlooked. However, it can pose far more serious and graver neurologic incapacity to the person suffering from this illness. Patients suffering from cauda equina syndrome may experience weakening of the legs. Other accompanying symptoms include bowel and bladder problems and bluntness near the genitals. The best way to cure this condition is through immediate surgical treatment called surgical decompression.

Weakening Senses of Arms and Legs

According to Rick C. Sasso, M.D., orthopaedic surgeon, Indiana Spine Group and Vincent Traynelis, M.D., professor of neurosurgery, Rush University, in some patients, a cervical herniated disc can cause spinal cord compression where disc material pushes on the spinal cord. This is a serious condition, which requires a more aggressive treatment plan. Dr. Sasso and Dr. Traynelis further state that “Spinal cord compression symptoms include awkward or stumbling gait, difficulty with fine motor skills in the hands and arms, and tingling or ‘shock’ type feelings down the torso or into the legs.”

Increasing Numbness

Consult your doctor if you feel an increasing numbness of your arms, hands and legs. The numbness may have been developing over time, and likely accompany pain due to the ruptured disc of the neck. The disc may have started to degenerate over time causing the nucleus of the disc to pop out. Numbness, accompanied by pain and weakness, may also be an indication that the disc is protruding farther into the spinal canal and may be compressing the nerves and possibly the spinal cord. If this occurred, your doctor may recommend surgery.

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