The disc is a ligamentous structure that lies between the bones of the spine. If these structures are under excessive strain they can weaken over time and tear or bulge, which has the potential to result in inflammation to the area. This process can irritate the adjacent nerve root as it leaves the spine resulting in numbness and sharp shooting pain traveling into the shoulder and down the arm, often into the hand and fingers.
In the early stages the goal of care is to provide pain relief and minimize the irritation to the nerve root. Treatment consists of mobilization and traction and/or a chiropractic adjustment to reduce pressure in the area. The patient is usually given relieving postures and exercises that the patient can do at how to provide relief and support healing. Low intensity laser therapy can be effective in decreasing inflammation associated with a disc herniation. It is also important that this condition be monitored to ensure the symptoms do not progress. As the pain subsides, further examination is usually indicated to identify the mechanism of injury and introduce spinal stability exercises and a functional rehabilitation program.