Cervical Prolapsed Intervertebral Disc/ Disc Herniation/ Slipped Disc
Cervical– neck, prolapsed– slipped from usual position, intervertebral– between vertebral [spinal] bones, disc– gelatinous structure between bones.
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Prolapsed intervertebral disc is commonly known as ‘Slipped Disc’ in lay man’s terms. This is one of the most common conditions affecting young and old alike. Though more commonly found in the lower back, it may occur in neck region also. The human spine contains 33 bones known as vertebrae stacked upon each other and separated by a gelatinous structure known as intervertebral disc which acts as a shock absorber. With aging as early as 2nd or 3rd decade, the disc starts losing its water content and becomes prone to displace. Compounded by daily exertional activities the disc may slip and cause compression of neural structures around.
It may cause Radiculopathy (compression of nerve roots)- severe pain radiating to upper limbs, paraesthesia and occasionally weakness or Myelopathy (compression of spinal cord)- fine hand dysfunction, imbalance while walking, etc . The prolapsed disc is diagnosed on MRI. Usually, the slipped disc resolves in 3 weeks- 3 months time with adequate conservative treatment– rest and medications. In certain conditions- myelopathy, non- resolving discs, severely painful discs or weakness – surgical treatment is advised. The surgery in most cases involves removal of the disc through a small incision in front of neck. After removal the space occupied by the disc is either filled with bone graft and spacer for fusion to occur- Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion or in some patients may be replaced with an artificial disc- Anterior Cervical Disc Replacement.