The cervical or neck area of the spine is especially vulnerable to damage. It is designed for flexibility and, unlike the thoractic spine below it, it is not stabilised by the rib cage. Herniation or rupture of the soft discs that separate the cervical vertebrae from each other can cause a variety of symptoms above and below the injury.
Nerve, connective tissue, and blood vessels are all involved in the anatomy of the cervical spine. When the vertebral disc ruptures, the soft material that is released can press against these sensitive tissues, causing motor and sensory complications. The adjacent vertebrae also collapse onto each other, potentially pinching nervous tissue and blood vessels under the weight of the head.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Neck mobility may be reduced or painful if a cervical disc is herniated. Other common symptoms include numbness, tingling and pain in the neck and arms due to the compression of nerves. Risk factors that can point toward a diagnosis of a herniated disc include frequent heavy lifting by the patient, smoking or frequent headfirst diving into water.
Rarely, blurred vision can be a symptom of a herniated cervical disk. This is the result of reduced blood flow to the occipital lobe, the part of the brain that controls vision, due to compression of blood vessels between the vertebrae. An "occipital headache" located at the back of the head can occur for the same reason.
Consult a Physician
Visual symptoms may be indicative of serious conditions other than a herniated disc, including cervical spondylosis, spinal tumour or multiple sclerosis. Consult a health care professional if you are experiencing blurred vision, visual fatigue, loss of vision, visual pain or other changes in your vision.
- Low back and neck pain: comprehensive diagnosis and management; David G. Borenstein, Sam W. Wiesel, Scott D. Boden; 2004
- "Whiplash Injuries: The Cervical Acceleration/Deceleration Syndrome"; Stephen M. Foreman, Arthur C. Croft; 2001
- "Primary care secrets"; Jeanette Mladenovic; 2004
- "Stroke"; Pathogenesis and Natural History of Transient Global Amnesia; Ninan T. Mathew, John S. Meyir; 1974
- "Trauma: Emergency resuscitation, perioperative anaesthesia, surgical management"; William C. Wilson, Christopher M. Grande, David B. Hoyt; 2007