Treatment for herniated discs in the neck usually begins with lifestyle changes and reduced activity for a period of time. Herniated disc in neck treatment by your Midtown NYC sports injury and pain specialist may include injections or surgery, but most treatment is very successful in getting you back to your optimal activity levels within a short period of time. Our sports injury clinic in NYC is certified, approved and is among the best pain management clinics in New York and the region.
The discs in your spine are the spongy pads cushioning your vertebrae. They act as shock absorbers, providing flexibility and mobility throughout your neck and back. A herniation occurs from cracks or tears in the outer layers of these discs, whether through wear and tear or injury. The inner, gel-like substance bulges through the cracks and presses against the nerve root running from your neck down your shoulders and arms to the fingers.
There isn’t a lot of space for nerves in your neck, so even a slight injury to the six discs sandwiched between your seven cervical vertebrae can result in painful symptoms. These symptoms can occur spontaneously, without warning. They range in severity from numbness or weakness to uncomfortable tingling and pain in your neck, shoulders, arms and fingers.
A herniated disc in your neck may even affect your grip. Rarely, large herniated discs cause weakness or tingling in other parts of your body, including your legs. See your New York City doctor is you experience any of these symptoms.
Diagnosis Before Treatment for Herniated Discs in the Neck
Your Manhattan pain specialist begins the diagnosis before your herniated disc treatment with a thorough physical exam and discussion of your history of symptoms and activity. If further tests are required, they include:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) — usually the single best test for diagnosis
- Computed tomography (CT scan) — used to check for the more sensitive and subtle cases
- Electromyography (EMG) — which uses electricity and small needles to test nerves and muscles affected by the pinched nerve. An EMG can rule out other nerve entrapment syndromes such as carpal tunnel, brachial plexitis and ulnar nerve entrapment.
Conservative Treatment for Herniated Discs in the Neck
Initially, your Midtown pain specialist hopes to treat your herniated disc with the most conservative options. Because the pain you experience results from inflammation surrounding the disc material, conservative methods and time often produce good results. Conservative herniated disc treatment includes:
- Rest and modified activity that excludes heavy lifting, exaggerated movements or activities with increased vibration and compression, such as boating, running or snowboarding
- Anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or COX-2 inhibitors to reduce inflammation
- Oral steroids for more severe pain and discomfort
- Physical therapy and approved exercises
- Alternating heat and ice
- Ultrasound for muscle spasms
- Cervical traction
- Chiropractic manipulation — low-velocity manipulation only
- Bracing — a collar or back brace to restrict movement
- Narcotic agents, muscle relaxants or anti-depressants for nerve-type pain and sleep, if needed
- Injections – nerve block or steroid injections in conjunction with other therapies
Aggressive Herniated Disc in Neck Treatment
Most cases see positive results within a few weeks to a couple months from conservative methods of herniated disc treatment. If these therapies haven’t delivered satisfactory results, however, your New York City pain specialist may suggest spine surgery. Depending on which disc is affected, your history and other physical concerns, your doctor has options about what kind of surgery to perform:
- Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) — The most common surgical method is the removal of the disc through a one-inch incision in the front of your neck. The disc space is fused and sometimes a plate is added for stability.
- Posterior cervical discectomy — Your NY pain specialist enters from the back of your neck, removes the disc and fuses the spine. This method is used for discs that are bulging laterally into the neural tunnel. It’s a more complex procedure due to the number of veins present and the chance of bleeding.
- Cervical artificial disc replacement — This procedure is similar to ACDF, but an artificial disc is placed in the disc space to mimic the form and function of the original.
Both ACDF and cervical disc replacement have high rates of success in relieving arm pain. There’s usually not a great deal of post-operative pain or decreased mobility. The procedures are often done on an outpatient or one-night hospital stay basis.
Aftercare for Surgical Herniated Disc in Neck Treatment
Pain and discomfort usually subsides quickly, although your numbness and tingling may take a few weeks to disappear. You may experience some neck pain for a time, but this is usually controlled by a prescribed neck brace and medication.
Treatments for herniated discs in the neck are becoming better at relieving pain and other symptoms from pinched nerves. Your Midtown Manhattan pain specialist works with you to find the best method to return you to a pain-free and active lifestyle as quickly as possible.
Do you have any questions about the herniated disc in the neck treatment we offer in NYC? Would you like to schedule an appointment with the best rated herniated disc doctor Febin Melepura MD of sports pain management clinic NYC? Please contact our office for consultation with the top back pain relief specialist in Midtown Manhattan.