MedStar Orthopaedic Institute is home to fellowship-trained and experienced spinal surgeons who are committed to working with you every step of the way during your treatment. When making a diagnosis, we first listen to your medical history, concerns, and questions, and then explain your diagnosis and all of your treatment options.
Our main priority is to help you make an informed decision about your spinal care, so we will always inform you of the risks and benefits associated with your treatment options. Whenever possible, we recommend options that incorporate conservative treatment, such as physical therapy or lifestyle modifications. When surgery is needed, our physicians are experts in a wide range of herniated disc surgeries that we perform regularly.
What is a herniated disc in the neck?
Your neck is made up of a column of bones called vertebrae that extends down through your spine. The spine forms a protective case around your spinal cord, which holds a group of important nerves that run through your spine to your brain. Between each section of bone in the neck, there is a cushion called a spinal disc. This helps your neck bones move without causing damage or pain. When a disc weakens or becomes injured, it can slide out of place. This is known as a herniated disc in the neck, or a cervical herniated disc.
What are the causes?
A disc usually herniates due to a lack of water or moisture inside the disc, which makes it less flexible. Some of the factors that can cause lower disc moisture include:
- Picking up heavy objects
- Natural aging process
- Being overweight
What are the symptoms?
Schedule a consultation with our spine and neck specialists at MedStar Orthopaedic Institute if you are suffering from any of the symptoms below:
- Pain in the neck
- Neck weakness
- Loss of range of motion
- Pain, numbness, weakness, or tingling down one or both arms
How is it diagnosed?
The orthopedic surgeons at MedStar Orthopaedic Institute are experts at diagnosing herniated discs. Our initial exam generally includes:
- Medical history evaluation – This includes asking questions about when your neck pain first began. Other questions may include questions about medications or past medical problems.
- Physical exam – Your doctor will examine your neck and the surrounding area, looking for signs of a herniated neck disc.
- Imaging tests – Your orthopedist may want to examine the bones and joints themselves using a variety of imaging techniques, including X-ray testing, MRI scanning, and other image tests to help diagnose your neck pain.
- Nerve tests – This kind of test can show your physician how well your nerves are working and may indicate exactly where your disc herniation is located.
How is it treated?
There are numerous conservative treatment options that our MedStar Orthopaedic Institute physicians may recommend. Often, herniated discs in the neck may go away with minor interventions, including:
- Anti-inflammatory or pain medications
- Physical therapy
- Heat or ice
- Massage therapy
- Strengthening exercises
If conservative options do not work or your condition worsens, one of our experienced orthopedists may recommend a microdiscectomy or other spinal surgery to repair the damage. The following procedures are available at MedStar Orthopaedic Institute:
- Posterior cervical foraminotomy and discectomy
- Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion
- Anterior cervical disc replacement
If you believe you may be suffering from a herniated disc, call 202-295-0511 to schedule a consultation with one of our orthopedic specialists at MedStar Orthopaedic Institute. Our doctors have years of experience diagnosing and treating neck and back conditions and are pleased to offer comprehensive spinal care in the Washington, D.C. area.