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Cervical hernia


Cervical vertebrae are located between the head and the thoracic vertebrae. There are seven in total. A cervical hernia is an abnormal protrusion of a portion of the intervertebral disc between two vertebrae.


A cervical hernia will be accompanied by several, easily recognizable symptoms. It is usually caused by trauma (shock) or more often ailments such as arthritis of the cervical part of the spine. The clinical signs are:
  • localized pain in the neck, called cervical pain;
  • headache;
  • tingling sensation called paresthesia, particularly in the neck. When the pain spreads out to the arms it is called cervicobrachial neuralgia, caused by compression of a nerve by the hernia;
  • stiff neck and difficulty in raising the head.

Symptoms of a cervical hernia differ depending on its location.


The diagnosis is suspected by a physician or a specialist (rheumatologist) after clinical examination. Radiographs of the cervical spine are helpful in identifying cervical spondylosis, a pinching of one or several intervertebral discs. The diagnosis is often confirmed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the cervical area that shows the protrusion of the intervertebral disc.


Treatment is mainly analgesic (aims to relieve pain caused by the hernia). It is based on the administration of paracetamol or another anti-inflammatory drug. Rehabilitation sessions with physiotherapy may be possible to regain neck flexibility and to strengthen muscles. In the most severe cases, when the hernia is really debilitating, surgery is considered.

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