Cervical Disc Herniation: Best Exercises For Your Sore Neck

By Dr Ken Nakamura+

Cervical Disc Herniation: Comprehensive Guide To Cervical Disc Herniation Including Exercises: Downtown Toronto Chiropractic

Do you have a cervical disc herniation?


Does your cervical disc herniation cause pain in your neck that refers down to your shoulder or arm?


Are looking for the best exercises that can help your cervical disc herniation ?


In this issue of Bodi Empowerment I go over the causes of  cervical disc herniations, what’s happening in your neck when you have a cervical disc herniation, symptoms for all the different cervical disc herniations, then I go over the exercises you need to help your neck get better.



Why Do I A Cervical Disc Herniation?


So how did you get this cervical disc herniation? Three key areas are genetics, posture and trauma.


#1 Genetics and Cervical Disc Herniations


With genetics I am referring to the genes passed down from your parents. Some of you have discs that are stronger more resilient to cervical disc herniations.


Some of you aren’t so fortunate like the rest of us.


#2 Trauma and Cervical Disc Herniations


Trauma such as car accidents or falls on the head can cause an immediate cervical disc herniation or if you had a milder trauma that didn’t require immediate treatment but pain later on, you can cause enough damage that accelerates that wear and tear that eventually leads to cervical disc herniations.



See also: Degenerative Disc Disease Part 1: Remedies For Lower Back Osteoarthritis


#3 Posture And Cervical Disc Herniations


Keeping proper posture keeps your discs happy. What I mean is when you have proper posture, the normal curves of the spine are maintained.


Sloucing Posture Contributes To Cervical Disc Herniation: Comprehensive Guide To Cervical Disc Herniation Including Exercises: Downtown Toronto Chiropractic


Slouching posture brings your head and neck forward. This puts more pressure on the front of the disc. Slouched posture basically pinches the front of the disc.



See Also: How To Improve Posture: 4 Upper Back Exercises




Your forward posture pinches the front of the disc is like pinching the front of a  jelly doughnut. If you push hard enough or long enought the jelly eventually comes out.


To understand how this happens lets go over the stages of a cervical disc herniation.


Disc Showing Annulus, Nucleus, and Endplates: Downtown Toronto Chiropractic


Why Does Cervical Disc Herniation Happen?


Your disc has two basic parts. The nucleus and annulus. The nucleus and annulus is akin to an flat onion with jelly in it. (better analogy than jelly doughnut) The jelly is the nucleus and the onion part is the annulus with many circular layers.

Disc Bulge: Start of A Cervical Disc Herniation


By slouching forward you are putting pressure at the front of the disc mainly the annulus (onion) so it eventually starts to bulge the onion at the back by pushing the nucleus (jelly) backwards.


A disc bulge is wide and like pushing on the front of a balloon. It simply get larger at the back of the balloon.


This is called a disc bulge. For most of you there is no pain but for some of you there can be considerable neck pain and even radiating pain down the shoulder and arm from this small disc bulge.


My experience shows me that a lot of people with neck pain that hurts at the end of all movements especially backwards and have a moderate to severe forward head posture often have a disc bulge.


Disc Protrusion: Almost A Cervical Disc Herniation

A disc protrusion is like a disc bulge that comes out in one focused spot. The disc pushes out as if you had your finger inside a balloon and pushed out.


Most of the layers of the onion (annulus)  have been damaged but the jelly (nucleus) is under considerable pressure. The jelly (nucleus) squeezes through the layers of the annulus (onion) with the few intact layers of the onion (annulus) and a the PLL (posterior longitudinal ligament) holding the jelly from spilling out. The disc is still contained by the  annulus and PLL ligament. ie the balloon hasn’t popped.


Cervical Disc Protrusions usually cause quite a bit of neck pain and often times pain down the arm. Many of you, with disc protrusions, on the other hand, have absolutely no pain.


The trick is not to let your doctor diagnose you based on just a MRI. An MRI that shows a disc protrusion by itself is not a diagnosis. It’s what a normal person with no pain can have. Make sure there is other evidence!


Disc Extrusion: Full Cervical Disc Herniation


Disc Extrusion is a  bulge so large that it breaks through the last layers of the onion (annulus) and the PLL ligament pushing into the area of the spinal cord and your nerves that branch from the spinal cord called nerve roots. ie. The balloon has popped. If you have an extrusion you likely have a tremendous amount of neck and arm pain that may radiate to your hand.


When you have a disc extrusion chances are the extrusion is likely causing your pain as it’s so large.


So the definition of a cervical disc herniation is when your nucleus has broken through all the protective layers of the annulus and popped right out.

Disc Sequestration


A disc sequestration occurs when a piece of your jelly (nucleus) that breaks through the onion (annulus) and the PLL ligament has now broken off and moved away further into the spinal cord area. When you have a disc sequestration you have a tremendous amount neck pain and usually pain down the shoulder, upper arm and forearm down to the fingers.


Still, there are a small amount of people with disc sequestrations with no pain.


What You Feel With A Cervical Disc Herniation


To understand your neck you should understand what vertebrae your doctor is talking about. Cervical spine is talking about your neck portion of your spine.


There are seven vertebrae in the cervical spine. Short form for “cervical” is C. Since there are seven vertebrae We number them C1 just underneath your skull followed by C2, C3,C4,C5,C6 and finally C7 at the base of your spine.


Here are some common symptoms that you may have when you herniate a disc at a specific spot.


Some people are wired differently so of you may not feel these exact symptoms.


C01 Disc Herniation: There is not disc at this level to herniate.


C12 Disc Herniation: There is no disc at this level to herniate.


C23 Disc Herniation: C3 Nerve Pinches. You will likely feel pain in the upper neck only


C34 Disc Herniation: C4 Nerve Pinched. You will likely feel pain in the neck only.



C45  Disc Herniation: C5 Nerve Pinched. Usually you can feel pain in the neck that can radiate down to the base of the neck and sometimes down to the shoulder. Your deltoid muscle might be weak and tight.


C56 Disc Herniation:  C6 Nerve Pinched. One of the most common disc herniations. You feel pain or numbness / tingling that radiates from the neck down to shoulder, upper arm to your thumb. Weakness and tightness in the muscles the allow your wrist to extend or bend backwards.  Your biceps might get extra tight and weak. Commonly misdiagnosed as a shoulder problem or tennis elbow.


C67 Disc Herniation: C7 Nerve Pinched.  One of the most common disc herniations. You will feel pain or numbness and tingling from the bottom of your neck down the shoulder to the back of the upper arm and possibly down to your middle finger. Your triceps might get extra tight and weak.


C7T1 Disc Herniation: C8 pinched nerve: Pain, numbness and tingling that radiates down the neck to the baby finger. Can make cause stiffness and weakness in your grip.


Exercises For Cervical Disc Hernations


With these exercises keep in mind if you have numbness and you now having tingling. This means there is less pressure on the nerve. You are actually getting better so you should continue with the exercises.


#1 Double Chin Exercises


Cervical Spine Pain Exercise:Double Chin (Retraction) -Toronto Downtown Chiropractor

  • Tuck your chin in and very slightly down.
  • Move the head slowly backwards until it is pulled back as far as it will go and keep it in this position for 4 seconds.
  • You should see a double chin in the mirror.

Do this 10 times per session every 2 hours if you have cervical spine pain.


#2 Sitting Extension


Cervical Spine Pain Exercise: Look Up -Extension -Toronto Downtown Chiropractor

  • Sit down and do a double chin as above.
  • Lift your chin to look up going as far as you can .
  • Rock your neck side to side a little bit (your nose moves an inch -2cm either way) trying get further and further back each time you rock. (4-5 rocks)
  • Keep going as far as you can for 4-5 nods.
  • Do this 10 times per session every 2 hours for your cervical disc herniation.


Tell us what you think in the comments below and like us on Facebook. I will answer all questions in the comments section here at this downtown Toronto Chiropractic clinic.



Dr Ken Nakamura

Who is Dr. Ken? I’m a father, spouse, chiropractor, and I love what I do! I created Bodi Empowerment to bring you and everyone-else safe and effective methods for self-treatment by basing my articles on research to everything I can. Still many parts will be based on 18 years of experience, seminars, and collaboration with other health experts; which means you will get opinions as well. Sometimes my articles won’t agree with what is currently accepted, but I am not here to please everyone. I’m here to empower you through the knowledge that I give you. Dr. Ken works at Rebalance Sports Medicine in downtown, Toronto.

308 Responses to Cervical Disc Herniation: Best Exercises For Your Sore Neck
  • jim cav says:
    March 9, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    Dr Ken,
    So glad I found this site. I’ve had left C6 radiculopathy for 2 months now and my provider is only interested in epidural injection. In prep for that, my inurance finally approved MRI which showed left 4mm herniation that hits the C6 root. I tried the chin tuck and extension exercises and they both cause pain in my neck where i assume the C6 is. Normally I don’t have neck pain, but rather pain from the left trapezius down to my thumb (it varies where along that line hurts–a numb thumb is pretty constant, then forearm in line with the thumb, then back of the arm/shoulder and trap.
    is there anther exercise to do if the chin tuck and head extension both increase pain? Home traction machine???

  • Aneer says:
    March 9, 2017 at 12:02 am

    Dear Dr Ken,
    Thank you for this brilliantly explained article and how very nice of you to reply to all of the troubling questions.
    I started to get pain in my fingers up to my shoulder in February 2016 which progressively got worse along with numbness and tingling so I seeked advise from my relative who is an orthopaedic consultant (in spine) and he told me to get an MRI. they found a slight disc bulge in c56 area. My symptoms are R sided pain in thumb, forefinger and middle finger going up to the upper arm muscles and shoulder. And my R neck feels tight and nerve pain at times too but it feels much worse in shoulder down to fingers and arm. Heat makes it worse, anti-inflammatories help but doesn’t make it subside. I work as a dentist but find it makes it worse. I also find it difficult to get things from above my shoulder and I struggle to carry heavy bags without it causing pain in my neck and shoulder and upper arm muscles. I saw chiropractor and also physiotherapist privately a few times last year- they were concerned I might have a shoulder impingement whereas I recently saw a consultant physiotherapist on the NHS who didn’t think so.
    When I wasn’t working for a period of a few months my symptoms improved, although I never fully gained my strength back and still found carrying bags and reaching for things above my shoulder aggravated my nerve only when carrying out the actions but not thereafter.
    My questions are-
    How would I know whether I’m getting pain from c5c6 protrusion or actually from a shoulder impingement (causing neck stiffness too)? Is there a way to know the difference? I was told to get an ultrasound- is this the only way or can I have physical examination carried out to know the difference?
    Secondly, how common is it for dentists to have this type of problem? and what is long term career prognosis? I’m 28 so just starting up!
    Thirdly, what is your opinion on steroid injections? I’m very anti medication but I’ve got a flare up again and anti inflammatories and exercises don’t seem to work.
    Lastly, What is the long term prevention/ self treatment? Is it daily neck exercises or do I need something more like Pilates?

    Many thanks,

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      March 9, 2017 at 10:16 pm

      Thanks for your question Aneer. It is common for dentists to have neck, upper back pain and headaches. I treat a number of dentists. First, the pain in the thumb, forefinger and middle finger and upper arm and shoulder indicate that the problem is coming from the neck. It is very common for health practitioners to treat the shoulder when the problem is the neck. (Kind of disturbing) While the distribution of the pain is the most obvious factor a neurological exam although likely to be negative can confirm it. In your case, your MRI correlates with your symptoms. A C6 nerve pinched by the C56 disc is the most likely cause.

      You only have a slight bulge because MRI’s do not correlate with reality. In reality, you have not said so, but flexion of your neck will likely increase your pain or other symptoms like numbness or tingling. When you bend your neck forward this increases the pressure on the disc, increasing the pressure on the nerve. Even if you don’t find an immediate effect you can have worsening that takes place over time. This is essentially what you told me when you took a break from dentistry for a few months and your symptoms improved.

      You need to reduce the disc herniation in your neck. Start by doing the first exercise while lying down on your back. I would see the consultant physiotherapist as he/she seems to be most on the ball. Please keep in mind that this is an opinion and not a recommendation as I have not examined you.

      Hope that helps your apparent cervical disc herniation.

      • Aneer says:
        March 16, 2017 at 9:12 am

        Thank you so much for your thorough and prompt reply and thanks for your great articles.


        • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
          March 16, 2017 at 9:59 am

          You are welcome Aneer. If you have any more questions for this downtown Toronto chiropractor I will do my best to give you a helpful answer.

  • Craig Anderson says:
    March 7, 2017 at 9:07 pm

    Hi Dr. Nakamura, I have a herniated disc in C5 C6 region how do I know that I am healing? I haven’t had an MRI but all the research shows that I have a problem between the C5 C6 due to the symptoms. It’s been about 6 weeks since I noticed the pain. Its been about 4 weeks since I stopped working. The pain is more bearable now and seems to be getting better with more neck movement, but I am concerned it’s a false sense of healing.I am a Painter- a lot of repetitive movement. So how do I know it’s healing?

  • Craig Anderson says:
    March 7, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    Hi Dr. Nakamura, my question is if I have a herniated disc in C5 C6 region how do I know that I am healing? I haven’t had an MRI but all the research shows that I have a problem between the C5 C6 due to the symptoms. It’s been about 6 weeks since I noticed the pain. Its been about 4 weeks since I stopped working. The pain is more bearable now and seems to be getting better with more neck movement, but I am concerned it’s a false sense of healing.I am a Painter- a lot of repetitive movement. So how do I know it’s healing?

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      March 7, 2017 at 9:18 pm

      Thanks for your question Craig. That’s a great question.
      1. The intensity of your pain: If it is less you are getting better.
      2. Frequency: Has your pain become more intermittent, than you are getting better.
      3. Location: If your pain is now further down into the hand you are getting worse if the pain is closer to your neck you are getting better.
      4. Functional: If you can do more like get up from a lying position to sitting that was painful before but is no longer painful you are getting better.
      5. Movement: If you can move your neck or arm more you are getting better. If you had pain while you are moving your arm but now only get the pain at the end of the motion you are also getting better.

      However, you should do exercises to help it. You can do these here but they should be supervised by a health practitioner like a chiropractor to help you do them. Otherwise, you can get worse with the exercises. This is an opinion and not a recommendation.

      Hope that helps your possible disc herniation. If you have any more questions this downtown Toronto chiropractor will do his best to help you.

  • charmaine says:
    March 4, 2017 at 10:37 am

    Thank you for your useful site and exercises. I had a ski crash back in 2012 and pain in my shoulder and sore arm so went to physiotherapist next day. In the end, I had a cortisone injection near my shoulder joint and the pain ‘disappeared’ as they believed my problem was more to do with that area. However, about 2015 I started experiencing ‘shoulder’ pain again intermittently. This year, it has become more frequent especially at work (caring for under two year olds) and every night. When the pain comes on it becomes very intense and I end up having to take at least 3 ibuprofen at once to take the edge off. The pain begins on the top, near the shoulder/arm joint then travels along to my neck. If it increases, it travels up my neck and at its worse, into my jaw. Anyway, an x ray showed narrowing of c4 and c5. The nurse gave me my results, not a doctor and she told me its age related (I am 50) and told me to do my ‘stretches’. I told her I havent been to anyone to get any ‘stretches’ but she cut me off and told me to turn my neck and look over my shoulder. I am a bit perplexed at why the nurse was giving me all of this advice. I told her that since my ski crash, I had also fallen backwards into an empty bathtub and smacked the back of my head and suffered mild concussion and last year I fell backwards crashing again skiing and banged the back of my head enough for it to hurt at the base where the helmet meets your head. Anyhow, I have had a try of your double chin exercises and really ‘enjoy’ them. Thank you

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      March 6, 2017 at 9:05 am

      Thanks for your comments Charmaine. If the double chin exercises help and keep helping just keep going with them. If you stop improving, then you need to press your chin with your hand while doing the double chin to get more pressure. This is an opinion and not a recommendation.

      Hope that helps your cervical disc herniation. If you have any more questions for this downtown chiropractor I will do my best to answer your questions.

  • SUNIL PANAT says:
    February 22, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    Thank you so much Dr. Ken for your soothing advice. I have been advised to correct my posture while sitting to take care of the disc herniation. As far as the shooting pain in the forehead is concerned nothing has been found which is of any concern. Your encouraging & comforting suggestions are invaluable for all the visitors to this wonderful blog. Thank you for rendering such a nice service to the humanity.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      February 23, 2017 at 11:29 am

      Thanks for your very nice comments Sunil. Hope that your cervical disc herniation gets well soon.

  • Fawad says:
    February 19, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    Hi Doctor, I have a herniated disc (S1L5) and this is what’s happening to me.
    My right foot gets numb mostly when i’m standing or walking, sometimes even when i’m sitting. My calves muscles and hamstrings start to feel a bit tight and it does hurt a lot sometimes not regularly tho. I like working out but i’m being very careful after being diagnosed with this problem, not lifting heavy weights at all.
    My MRI report also says that i have straightening of lumbar spine.
    As for my history, no trauma but i’ve always been walking with a bad posture and my left foot is sort of flat (not completely but different from my right foot).
    Doctors already told me that this thing is for life, so is there anything i can do to improve my condition and workout properly as i used to.
    Thanks !

  • Tina says:
    February 17, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    Hi Dr. Ken,

    I have been diagnosed with C5/C6 herniated disk. That is punching the nerve that is causing numbness in my right thumb. Thais has been going on since Christmas of last year. An MRI showed the herniated disk pushing on the nerve, with bone spurs present in the area.

    I’ve been doing physical therapy for about 3 weeks. Since this ordeal has started I’ve been on all types of pain meds (currently only taking during PT days) and a epileptic med to control the nerve. I’m waiting for my surgery date.

    I’ve been gaining weight with the bed rest and pills. I’m able to walk and my right arm has gotten stronger since starting physical therapy. I know I can’t lift weights and sit-ups are out of the question. Is there any other way to workout and get this weight off. Thanks for any advice.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      February 18, 2017 at 9:54 pm

      Thanks for your question Tina. If I were you I would go for a long brisk walk starting with 10 minutes and go to an hour a day. Keep in mind your arm movements as that may make things worse.

      Hope that helps your cervical disc herniation.

  • Charlene Torgerson says:
    February 16, 2017 at 1:48 am

    I was recently diagnosed with c 6 degenerative discs and bone spurs. I am a 49 year old fairly healthy/active female. I also have a constant sciatic nerve pain. Not enough to require bed rest, just uncomfortable. On my left side. Coincidently it’s the same side that is numb/tingly from the neck problem are there exercises I can do to alleviate the pain for both? And perhaps prevent more deterioration?

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      February 16, 2017 at 9:57 pm

      Thanks for your question Charlene. Try the first exercises the retraction while you are sitting. Numbness and tingling are tricky as it won’t react like pain. So try to see if any pain in your neck gets worse or better. If worse stop the exercises. If better keep going. Numbness takes longer to respond in general. You will know if that is getting worse if the area of numbness grows or feels number.

      If you stop the exercises try the exercises while lying down on the floor or bed. People often get worse while sitting up but do better while lying down. If you want more concrete answers than go see the best local chiropractor in your area.

      Hope that help your C6 degenerative disc.

  • Lewi. says:
    February 12, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    Hello Dr
    I have disc damage with nerve pain at the c6-7 I was advised that I needed a anterior cervical discectomy and fusion C6-7 surgery. But then told I’m to overweight and they can’t do it. I was left with no options know advise. I can’t sit or lay down. Therefore i can’t sleep. Please advise

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      February 13, 2017 at 3:07 am

      Thanks for your question Lewi. Well, you haven’t told me what your symptoms are other than the fact you can’t sit or lay down without pain. Often the problem is a large disc that has put your neck into flexion but you need to much more detailed with your symptoms. This is an opinion and not a recommendation.

      Hope that helps your cervical disc herniation.

  • Sherri says:
    February 10, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    Hi, Dr. Ken,
    I had an MRI after trying to deal with sudden extreme pain in my upper back/neck and left shoulder with numbness and tingling down my left arm and fingers. I have a large herniation C5/C6 that is affecting the nerve root. (This has been about a month) While waiting for the neurologist to get back with me on a game plan, I have been taking oral steroids, muscle relaxers and pain medication. I would love to avoid surgery and don’t want to be dependent on pain meds. I did the excercises you have on here, and will continue. Is there anything else you would recommend? I have not had a good experience with one of the chiropractors and am reluctant to go back. The other docs also told me not to go. I would love to know of anything else I can do on my own to help this thing heal and be free of pain without medication! Some say rest, some say exercise (we are FitBit walkers) Thanks for your article–very helpful.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      February 13, 2017 at 2:57 am

      Thanks for your question Sherri. First, it depends on the chiropractor that you see. A good chiropractor can help, a bad one will likely make you worse. The problem is telling them apart without experiencing them.

      Yes, walking and overall fitness are helpful. As for the exercises if they are helping you should continue. If they are making you worse then you should stop. You would be surprised how many people carry on while getting worse in the process. Also, you could try progressing the retraction exercises if they are not making you worse and you have plateaued at the moment.

      If the retraction exercises are making you better you should not progress the exercises.
      Try lying down and put your hand on your chin and use the pressure on your chin to do retractions. This must not make you worse after you are finished. It can be worse right after but if you are better overall after than it’s fine.

      This is a opinion and not a recommendation.

      Hope this helps your cervical disc herniation.

  • Kathy says:
    February 8, 2017 at 8:55 am

    Hi have a herniated disk c5/c6. Going on 4 months now and am able to do neck glides w very minimal pain. Have sore muscle pain in shoulder and at times nerve pain in my thumb only. Most of the pain is now centralizing on the injured disk. Pain is nothing like when this all 1st started. Still doing PT and chiro weekly. Including Acupancture once a month. When would you suggest I could start running, as I stopped after this incident?

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      February 9, 2017 at 11:57 pm

      Thanks for your question Kathy. You should start by going for 10-minute walks, followed by fast walking providing you are no worse, then move an easy jog. It’s all a graduated process increasing the time you spend as you go on. Remember that you shouldn’t go on to the next stage if you are worse.You should start when while you still have pain by testing things out. Hope that helps your cervical disc herniation.

      This is an opinion and not a recommendation.

  • Karen says:
    February 6, 2017 at 1:38 am

    Hello doctor
    I recently started with pain in my shoulder right arm and elbow and hand was in tremendoes pain i had a xray they told me i needed to see specialist and gave me painkillers i saw specialist he said it was c5 an c6 osteophytes and said i need a soecial scan to see nerves and musles 6 wks later im still waiting the pain has come back with vengeance please can you advise if physio will.help thankyou

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      February 7, 2017 at 9:45 pm

      Thanks for your question Karen. Either Physiotherapy or chiropractic will help. However, it is the skill of the chiropractor or physiotherapist and not the title that matters. There are bad chiropractors and there are bad physiotherapists as well as good one on either side. If you get a bad one they will likely make you worse, while a good one will likely make you better.

      By the way, most of the time the osteophytes have no correlation to the pain. If you think about it the pain decreased but your osteophytes were still there. Your pain increased but your osteophytes did not grow in that short period of time. While it’s possible it is the osteophytes it’s not very likely. Also, I have lots of patients with osteophytes at the C56. Their pain goes away with treatment. That means the osteophytes which are still there isn’t the cause.

      Hope that helps your possible cervical disc herniation.

  • Shivani says:
    February 5, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    Hello Doctor,
    I am female 18 years and my Mri report stated that i have left paracentral in c5-6 level . Before i had a Neck and shoulder pain but now there is radiating pain in my left hand. Please advice what are the treatments available to cure it.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      February 5, 2017 at 8:07 pm

      Thanks for your question Shivani. You need to write a lot more about your symptoms before I can properly comment. Imagine going to your medical doctor and that’s all the information you give him/her. Give me all the information about the pain or I cannot comment.

      Hope you understand I need much more information before commenting about any possible cervical disc herniation or any other diagnosis.

  • Prateek Pandey says:
    January 23, 2017 at 6:24 am

    Hello Dr . I am 25 Male
    On 16th this month i woke up with a pain in my left side of neck . Next day the pain became severe and it travelled to my left arm. I am not able to lie down since then in any posture because as soon as i lie down, the muscles pain becomes more worse. I went for pain killers for two days. It did not help . I consulted a Ortho doctor and he adviced for a cervical xray .The x ray report says ‘ Disc Space is decreased between C5-C6 Vertebrae’. The doctor gave me medicines for 7 days and adviced physiotherapy . On that day itself i went for a physiotherapy . There they kept some hot liquid filled pillow on my shoulder . Then they applied some cold spray via electrode around 10 minutes . The physiotherapy caused me a burn in my skin also above shoulder .some skin has come out and it has reddened that area. Although It gave me some relief but the pain is unbearable in whole left arm when i lie down. I never had any case before .It was all sudden on that morning. What should i do now Doctor as i am writing this message at morning 4 Indian timing .I could not sleep properly today also because of this unbearable pain .Please advive Sir .

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      January 24, 2017 at 10:08 am

      Thanks for your question Prateek. You need to find the best chiropractor or physiotherapist in your town as your pain is too severe for me to give you a good opinion on, as I cannot examine you.

      Hope that helps your cervical disc herniation.

  • Camellia says:
    January 19, 2017 at 11:20 am

    I had what i thought was a frozen shoulder for a couple of years and the pain would flare up from time to time.
    Finally a physiotherapist asked me to take an x ray and MRI of my neck and spine which showed a compression in C5/C6.
    I started physiotherapy for this recommended by the doctor and while the shoulder pain has eased a bit I have a constant tightening and pain in my neck and between my shoulder blades that I NEVER had before.
    Could the physuotherapy have aggravated this/

    I have now stopped the physio for the past 2 weks and am swimming thrice a week. The pain seems to have eased but has not gone away

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      January 19, 2017 at 9:36 pm

      Thanks for your question Camellia. While it’s not the normal finding when getting better people often find symptoms closer to the spine are increased while symptoms in the shoulder decrease. I would go back. The physiotherapist didn’t make you worse they made you better. It’s a matter of communication. The physiotherapist failed to communicate that this could help as a part of the treatment.

      Hope that helps your “C5/C6 disc compression” or possible C56 cervical disc herniation.

  • Sunil Panat says:
    January 18, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    Hello Dr. Ken ! The article is very informative. Your replies to many questions are very reassuring. Thanks for buildling confidence among the anxious advice seekers. I have a disk protruding inside & touching the spinal chord in c3, c4 & c5. There is no cerebrospinal fluid seen where the disk is touching the spinal chord, while on the other 3 sides the CSF is surrounding the spinal chord very well. I am not experiencing any kind of pain. I hope the two exercises mentioned in this article would help me build space between the spinal chord & the vertebral disk. I was using thick & hard pillows, now I have shifted to soft & thinner pillow. I would be thankful to you for your kind advice on my condition & physiotherapy.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      January 19, 2017 at 9:40 am

      Thanks for your question Sunil. You got the wrong idea. You don’t treat the MRI.

      You only treat a disc if it’s symptomatic. Otherwise, leave it alone. There is no such thing as a perfect MRI. Not one that I have ever seen and I have seen thousands. 30% of 30 years old have a disc herniation with no pain and 60% of 60 years old have a disc herniation with no pain. Leave it alone.

      Don’t fear the MRI. Fear the person that sent you for an MRI, if you had no symptoms, to begin with. Unless you went to get an MRI privately.

      Don’t do the exercises. Hope that clarifies things about cervical disc herniations.

      • Sunil Panat says:
        January 19, 2017 at 10:07 pm

        Thank you Dr. Ken for your encouraging response.

        • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
          January 20, 2017 at 3:19 am

          Sunil, why did you get an MRI if you have no pain?

          • SUNIL PANAT says:
            February 11, 2017 at 11:59 pm

            I apologize for a delayed response Dr. Ken.

            I experienced a severe shooting pain in the forehead. A neurologist adviced me to get MRI done ASAP to rule out any serious complications. In addition to brain the MRI of spinal cord was also done where the disc herniation was observed.

          • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
            February 13, 2017 at 3:02 am

            Your MRI results of a cervical disc herniation have nothing to do with your severe shoot pain. They are incidental to the pain in your forehead and so should not be treated. That’s my opinion and not a recommendation. You need to consult someone that can examine you to get a true opinion. I am going by the limited information you have given me. So in the end, my opinion doesn’t change. Don’t treat the MRI.

            Why don’t you consult the best chiropractor in town to see what the problem is? By now if there was something urgent in the brain on the MRI, you would have been treated by now.

            Hope that helps your likely asymptomatic cervical disc herniations.

  • mourn ali says:
    January 14, 2017 at 5:03 am

    Hello Dr.
    I have a small disc bulge in c3c4 and c4c5. I have no pain at all. My question is will the disc eventually herniated? What should I do to prevent it from getting worst. Thank you so much!!

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      January 16, 2017 at 9:09 am

      Thanks for your question Mourn. Technically they are all herniated since the term disc bulge, disc protrusion, disc extrusion and disc sequestration are all disc herniations. Not to worry though most people have disc herniations with no symptoms. If it is not bothering you first try not to worry so much. 2nd why are getting an MRI when you don’t need one. If this is the case your doctor is causing needless worry. In practice, I find everybody has “something” with an MRI as there is no “perfect” MRI.

      The only thing I would do is try to have good posture. Otherwise don’t look at your MRI, don’t think about your MRI and get on with your life.

      Hope that helps your cervical disc herniation.

      • mourn ali says:
        January 17, 2017 at 9:43 pm

        Thank you Dr. Ken. Very nice of you to take the time to answer my question.

        • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
          January 17, 2017 at 10:13 pm

          Thanks for nice comment Mourn. Good luck with your cervical disc herniation. I probably have a disc herniation in my lower back and possibly in my neck but I am not particularly concerned.

  • Joe says:
    January 11, 2017 at 9:42 pm

    Thank you for this article.

    I have pain on the left side of my neck and into my left shoulder blade. The pain radiates down my left arm, especially on the outside of the arm. The worst spot seems to be on the lower arm about halfway between the wrist and elbow where it almost feels like a bone bruise. The arm pain depends greatly on the angle I am currently holding my arm as it is worse at some angles than others.

    If I bend my neck to the left and try to touch my cheek to my left shoulder the pain gets worse. If I bend to the right and touch my right cheek to my right shoulder it does not affect the pain, I simply feel the stretch in the muscles to the left side of my neck.

    These seem to be classic symptoms of a herniated disc. Any opinions based on this?

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      January 12, 2017 at 12:41 pm

      Thanks for your question Joe. Likely a cervical disc herniation but not guaranteed. If you are older like 60 it can be lateral foraminal stenosis. I would try the exercises while laying down on your back. I would only do the first exercise, though. That’s my opinion and not a recommendation. Keep in mind it would be easy to make yourself worse as your pain is going pretty far down the arm.

      I think a better bet for you would be to find the best chiropractor or physiotherapist in your area. You would likely do much better due to the serious nature of your problem. This is an opinion and not a recommendation.

      Hope that helps your cervical disc herniation.

      • Joe says:
        January 12, 2017 at 8:10 pm

        Thank you for your opinion and I do realize that you cannot do anything more than have an opinion at a distance like this. I should have mentioned that previously that I am 50 years old.

        • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
          January 12, 2017 at 10:10 pm

          Joe, your pain is likely due to a disc herniation then.

          Hope that helps your possible cervical disc herniation

  • Manoj says:
    January 9, 2017 at 11:24 pm

    Hello Doctor
    I have been having neck pain with numbness in my left arm and fingers and also am experiencing dizziness and head spin when I sleep facing the ceiling and looking down or up while sitting and standing. My MRI report says loss of lordotic curvature seen due to muscle spasm. At C7/D1 level there is focal focal central and right paracentral disc bulge causing thecal indentation without significant foraminal narrowing or radiculopathy.
    Please advise what treatment options are there to treat this

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      January 12, 2017 at 12:34 pm

      Thanks for your question Manoj. Like most MRI your pain and numbness has nothing to do with the paracentral disc bulge. As you probably figured out the bulge is on the right and your pain is on the left. The MRI results are not relevant to your pain. You will have to figure it out with the best chiropractor in your neighbourhood.

      Good luck with your cervical disc herniation.

  • Jonas T. says:
    January 6, 2017 at 3:38 am

    I have immense back pain and posture problem. I can feel a gap between my c3 and c4 disks, and the c3 disk has been pushed out, while the c4 + disks are all pretty straight. Will these exercises help me?


    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      January 6, 2017 at 7:01 am

      Thanks for your question Jonas. First, you may or may not have the right diagnosis. Even among professionals, self-diagnosis is tricky as you can’t be objective as it’s your body. Second, that is a relatively rare place to have a disc go out. Not that it doesn’t happen but it doesn’t happen as much, compared to lower down.

      Assuming your diagnosis is correct the exercises will be unlikely to help as these exercises are for the more common type of cervical disc herniations.

      Good luck with your possible cervical disc herniation.

  • PIYUSH JOSHI says:
    January 5, 2017 at 7:03 pm

    hi i am male 30 years. my mri report sates the following The study reveal loss of usual cervical and lumbar lordotic curvatures. Partial disc desiccation with mild posterior disc bulge are seen at C-4 C-5 to C6-C7 levels indenting the thecal sac. Disc desiccation with diffuse disc bulge is seen at L5 -S1 level intending the thecal sac. Vertrebral bodies are normal in height alignment and marrow signal intensity with intact cortical margins…what hsould i do now. I am lawyer from india.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      January 5, 2017 at 10:00 pm

      Thanks for your question Piyush. First MRI is the least important part of making a diagnosis. Diagnosis is made by history first, which narrows the examination, which gives you a diagnosis. Disc herniation diagnosis is not made by MRI. They are only confirmed by MRI. The vast majority of times it is clear from the history and exam so when it is clear you don’t need an MRI. You don’t tell me any symptoms so I can’t tell you anything, as 30% of 30 year old with no pain whatsoever have disc herniations. For all I know you may have no pain with that exact MRI above.

      Good luck with your cervical disc herniation.

      • Israr says:
        January 9, 2017 at 12:20 am

        Sir send m your e mail adres my brother have same problem i want to send u e mail my mail.Israr25d@gmail.com

        • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
          January 9, 2017 at 8:39 am

          Sorry I only answer questions here in the comments section.

  • Ahmed says:
    December 29, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    Hello doctor,
    please advice me what to do in my situation.
    I did MRI and the results as following.
    Cervical dual sac ccompression by right posterolateral protruding disc between c5-c6 indenting the dural sac and encroaching and compressing the origin of the right side c6 nerve root . Diffuse bulging disk between c3-c4 and c6-c7 flattening the dual sac.
    I have sever pain sometimes it almost makes me cry . I’m on tramal just to be able to sleep . Physio seems not helping. I tried these exercises but I can’t do it because once I start doing it, I have pain in My neck and arm numbness in my fingers .
    is there anything else I can do to fix this ??

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      December 31, 2016 at 7:51 pm

      Thanks for your question Ahmed. You haven’t told me any symptoms except to say you have “neck and arm numbness in my fingers”. The MRI is secondary and your symptoms or your history is much more important followed by the examination.

      Goood luck with your cervical disc herniation.

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