The bones (vertebrae) that form the spine in your back/neck are cushioned by small, spongy discs. When these discs are healthy, they act as shock absorbers for the spine and keep the spine flexible. But when a disc is damaged, it may bulge or break open. This is called a herniated disc which commonly affects the cervical spine. Some of the most common causes of disc injuries are simple movements such as lifting heavy loads or trauma. A herniated disc may or may not produce referred arm pain depending on whether any adjacent nerves have been compressed. In this case, the arm pain commonly extends into the wrist and hand. Generally the referred arm pain is described as a shooting, electric shock type pain.
Symptoms may be one or all of the following:
- Intense sharp neck pain which is worse with coughing/sneezing, and may also prevent you from turning/extending your neck.
- Referred pain shooting down from the neck to the shoulder or even the foot.
- Numbness or a tingling sensation in the shoulder, arm or hand.
- Weakness in the arm or hand.