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Is My Neck Pain from a Herniated Disc?

Is My Neck Pain from a Herniated Disc?

Neck pain can hinder your ability to perform even simple tasks associated with daily living. And while there are various causes of neck pain, one very common culprit is a herniated disc.

Well-known pain management physician Dr. John S. Michels, serving the Dallas-Fort Worth region of Texas with exceptional, award-winning care, explains the symptoms and treatment options for neck pain caused by a herniated disc.

Understanding the basics of a herniated disc

A herniated disc, also known as a ruptured disc, occurs when the soft inner core of an intervertebral spinal disc protrudes through its outer layer.

Disc herniation can occur anywhere along the spine, but this condition most often affects the lumbar spine (lower back) and cervical spine (neck). 

The resulting inflammation and irritation to nearby nerves can result in pain at the site, along with discomfort, numbness, and muscle weakness anywhere along the nerve’s distribution.

What causes herniated discs in the neck?

Several factors can contribute to the development of a herniated disc in your neck, including:

Age-related degeneration

As you age, the discs in your spine naturally thin and lose water content, making them less flexible and more prone to injury.

Trauma or injury

Sudden jerking movements, accidents, or falls can put excessive pressure on your neck, leading to a herniated disc.

Repetitive strain

Activities that involve repetitive neck movements or prolonged neck flexion, often the result of poor posture, can increase the risk of disc herniation.


Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to developing herniated discs.

How can I tell my neck pain is related to a herniated disc?

The symptoms of a herniated disc in the neck can vary depending on the location and severity of the condition. During your initial consultation, Dr. Michels performs a complete evaluation of your symptoms and may recommend an MRI or CT scan to confirm the diagnosis.

Otherwise, common signs and symptoms of cervical disc herniation include:

Neck pain

You may experience persistent or sharp neck pain that worsens when turning your head. The pain may also radiate (travel) into the shoulders, arms, or fingers.

Headaches are another common feature, often misdiagnosed as tension headaches since the discomfort can travel up the back of the head and around one or both sides.

Numbness or tingling

When a herniated disc compresses nerves, you may experience numbness, tingling, or a pins-and-needles feeling in the affected area.

Muscle weakness

Muscle weakness can occur in severe cases, affecting your grip strength or fine motor skills.

Reduced range of motion

Stiffness and limited neck mobility are often observed in individuals with a herniated disc.

How do you treat herniated discs?

Dr. Michels offers nonsurgical treatment solutions for neck pain related to a herniated disc, including:

Rest and activity modification

Avoiding activities that exacerbate your symptoms and adopting proper posture can help reduce pain and promote healing.

Physical therapy

Targeted exercises and stretches can help improve neck strength and flexibility. Specific exercises can also benefit your posture. This decreases stress on discs, joints, and other structures in the spine.

Epidural steroid injections

In some cases, injections of corticosteroids around the affected nerves can relieve pain and inflammation.

Once your pain is under control, Dr. Michels also provides tips for improving your posture, proper lifting techniques, and other lifestyle modifications that reduce your risk of disc herniation.

Schedule an evaluation with Dr. Michels today for nonsurgical relief from neck pain. Call our office or request an appointment online.

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