Regis W. Haid, Jr., MD, Spine Surgeon

Atlanta, Georgia
(404) 350-0106

Cervical Herniated Discs

The most common symptom of cervical disc herniation is neck pain that radiates (spreads) down to the arm in various locations. Although a cervical herniated disc may be caused by trauma or injury to the cervical spine, the symptoms, including arm pain, often start spontaneously.

Regis W. Haid, Jr. MD

The arm pain from a cervical herniated disc results because the disc material “pinches” or presses on a cervical nerve, causing pain to radiate along the path of the nerve pathway down the arm. Numbness and tingling may also be present down the arm and into the fingertips. Additionally, the patient may suffer muscle weakness as a result of a cervical herniated disc.

The specific location of the arm pain or symptoms depend on which disc is involved. The two most common levels in the cervical spine to herniate are the C5 - C6 level (cervical 5 and cervical 6) and the C6 -C7 level.

herniated disc

The impact of a herniated discs is often as follows:

  • C4 - C5 (C5 nerve root) - May cause weakness in the deltoid muscle of the upper arm or possibly shoulder pain. Does not usually cause numbness or tingling.
  • C5 - C6 (C6 nerve root) - May cause weakness in the biceps and wrist extensor muscles. Numbness and tingling along with pain can sometimes extend to the thumb side of the hand. This is one of the most common levels for a cervical disc herniation to occur.
  • C6 - C7 (C7 nerve root) - May cause weakness in the triceps (muscles on the back of the upper arm) and to the finger extensor muscles. Tingling and numbness, and pain may radiate down the triceps and into the middle finger.)
  • C7 - T1 (C8 nerve root) - May cause weakness with the hand's ability to grip. Numbness and tingling and pain may radiate down the arm to the little finger side.

As with most spinal problems, the first line of treatment typically involves medications and/or physical therapy. Surgical treatment for cervical disc herniation may involve foraminotomy or artificial disc placement.

Spinal Surgery Treatment

Spine Conditions