Dislocated neck disc: what is it?

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A dislocated disc in the neck is when a disc in the spine ruptures and puts pressure on the nerves, causing moderate to severe pain. Causes vary, and symptoms include pain, numbness, and weakness. Treatment can include pain relievers, rest, steroid pain relief treatments, or surgery.

A dislocated disc in the neck, sometimes called a slipped neck disc or herniated neck disc, is a rupture of a disc in the spine of the neck. The ruptured neck disc pops out of its normal position between the vertebrae in the neck and puts pressure on the nerves in the spine. Depending on the rupture, neck pain from a dislocated disc can range from moderate to severe.

The bones of the spine, called vertebrae, extend from the base of the skull, down the back, and into the pelvic region. Between each vertebra are small, soft cartilaginous discs filled with gelatinous nucleus tissue. These discs cushion the vertebrae, preventing the bones from rubbing together and allowing for flexible movement of the body. With a dislocated disc, one or more cervical discs pop out of position. There is normally a small amount of space between the cervical disc and the spinal cord, but severe disc dislocation in the neck will cause the disc to be compressed against sensitive spinal nerves.

The causes of disc luxation in the neck vary. A traumatic spinal injury from an accident or fall could impact the vertebra and weaken the muscles that hold the spine and discs in place. Repetitive straining or overexertion could cause a neck injury resulting in a dislocated disc. Degenerative or congenital diseases such as scoliosis and spinal stenosis can affect the spine and cervical discs.

Symptoms of a dislocated disc in the neck include shocking jolts of pain in the neck or arm where the slipped neck disc presses on the nerves in the cervical spine. Numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness may occur. Most of the time, the dislocated disc will heal on its own. A doctor might prescribe pain relievers and rest.

In severe cervical disc injury or degenerative cervical spine disease, the core tissue in the disc becomes compressed or dried out. The vertebrae rub against each other, causing inflammation and extreme pain. In these cases, steroid pain relief treatments or spine surgery may be required.

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