Can Herniated Cervical Discs Cause Headache Pain?

A herniated cervical disc can be a painful experience to say the least. It occurs when the discs that connect vertebrae together begin experiencing problems. Trauma or age can lend itself to the deterioration of the discs. The centers of the disc may experience fluid loss. This lessens its effectiveness in acting as a cushion between the vertebrae. As the center begins to weaken, the outer part may begin to tear. This creates a disturbance that allows the disc’s center to become displaced, or herniated. In this state, the center may relocate through the crack in the weakened outer layer. It will begin to occupy the space with the nerves and spinal cord. This gives the disc the opportunity to put pressure on the nerves, causing shoulder pain, tingling, numbness or weakness.

While headaches are not a primary symptom of herniated cervical discs, this pain has been present in a number of sufferers. Many of these people have found some relief with nonsurgical spinal decompression.

More typical symptoms include weakness, pain and numbness. Arm pain is very common. It originates from the pressure being applied by the herniated disc on the cervical nerve. This pressure often causes some pain to follow the complete nerve path throughout the arm. Numbness and tingling often accompany the pain completely down to the sufferer’s fingertips. At times, the arm muscles may experience weakness, ranging from slight to bad.

Amazingly, symptoms can correspond to the cervical disc that is herniated. If the problem is in the C4-C5, the deltoid muscle becomes the weaker muscle, but the arm is normally free from tingling and numbing sensations. The shoulder may also experience pain. When the herniation is the C5-C6, it is the bicep and extensor muscles in the wrists that are weak. The side of the hand with the thumb will most likely experience pain, numbness and tingling. The C5-C6 is the most widely herniated disc. Herniation in the C6-C7 will present itself as weakness in the triceps and finger extensor muscles. Pain will travel down the triceps to the middle finger. Problems with the C7-T1 will disrupt the sufferer’s handgrip, making it weak. Pain, tingling and numbness will travel down the little finger and that side of the hand.

Herniated cervical discs can be diagnosed through clinical evaluations. A medical professional will ascertain the severity and location of the problem. A thorough evaluation of the neck and symptoms is to be expected. After this step, the doctor may deem it necessary to verify the findings using an X Ray, CT scan or a MRI. The latter two options give a better picture of what is happening in the neck because their images are much more detailed. The X Ray is more apt at showing bone spurs and depicting any narrowing of the space that may have occurred over time. Some doctors may feel that an electrical study is needed for the most accurate diagnosis. This will allow the doctor to see any nerve damage that has occurred because of the herniated disc.


Filed Under: Herniated Disc
Written By:  Updated:
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Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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