Can a Herniated Disc Affect Your Arms?

Can a Herniated Disc Affect Your Arms?

Many of us associate a herniated disc with the lower back, but the problem can crop up just as easily in your cervical spine, or neck. Just as a problematic disc in your lumbar spine can lead to sensations in your leg, symptoms can develop in your arm when the herniation is in your neck.

No matter its location, the team here at Texas Spine Consultants, including Michael Hennessy, MD, Andrew Park, MD, Chester Donnally, MD, Robert Viere, MD, and Heidi Lee, MD, has extensive experience helping our patients with herniated discs.

Below, we’re going to focus on what happens when the disc herniation occurs in your neck and the potential for symptoms that radiate down into your arm.

A brief look at the anatomy of your neck

To understand how a problem in your neck can affect your arms, it’s helpful to take a quick look at the anatomy in question. Your neck, or cervical spine, is made up of seven small vertebrae that stretch from the base of your skull to the top of your back. These vertebrae are separated by six cervical discs that provide cushioning and support in your neck.

In addition to the vertebrae and discs, there are eight pairs of cervical nerve roots that exit your spine in your neck. These nerves are responsible for stimulating muscle movement in your neck, shoulders, arms, and hands, as well for the sensations in all these areas. 

When a disc herniates

Your intervertebral discs are made up of a strong, fibrous outlet layer called the annulus. On the inside, you find a jelly-like substance called the nucleus pulposus. With a herniated disc, some of the annulus leaks out of a tear in the disc and irritates whatever nerve root is in the area.

Herniated discs occur most frequently in areas of your spine that work the hardest — your lower back and your neck.

Women are more prone to herniated discs as they account for 60% of cases and the problem develops most frequently among people between the ages of 30 and 50.

Symptoms in your arms

A herniated cervical disc can lead to pain in the immediate area, as well as symptoms that radiate down your shoulder and into your arm and hand. Called radiculopathy, the symptoms from a pinched nerve root typically only occur on one side, as it’s rare that both nerves of the pair are affected. 

While you might develop arm pain, you can also experience numbness and tingling. Depending upon the extent of the nerve compression, you might run into some muscle weakness in your arms and hands, as well.

If any of these symptoms sound familiar, it’s a good idea to come see us for an evaluation. Not only can we identify what’s causing the symptoms in your arm, we can provide you with relief.

To get started, please contact one of our offices in Addison or Plano, Texas, to schedule an appointment today. 

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