Chiropractic Care for Cervical Disc Herniations

Dr.Kimberly Huynh

March 28, 2024 · 5 min

Basic Anatomy

Our neck is made up of seven cervical vertebrae (C1-C7) with a spinal disc in between, and eight pairs of cervical nerves. The intervertebral discs act as ‘shock absorbers,’ lessening the load on vertebrae. The discs are composed of a sore inner core called the ‘nucleus pulposus’’ and a tough and rigid outer section called the ‘annulus fibrosus.’

What is a Cervical Disc Herniation?

A herniated cervical disc happens when some of the nucleus pushes out through a tear in the annulus. Depending on the severity it can be called a disc bulge (mild) to herniated disc (severe). This can be caused by gradual, age-related wear and tear called degeneration, poor posture, injury, and/or trauma.


What are the Symptoms?

When a cervical disc herniation occurs, it may compress one or more of the spinal nerves. However, some experience no symptoms, for those who do, having a disc herniation can result in the production of pain and other symptoms along the course of the nerves. This is known as ‘radiculopathy’.

Cervical radiculopathy results in pain, numbness, and arm and hand weakness. Symptoms may be aggravated by certain neck movements, sustaining prolonged positions (i.e. sitting), coughing, sneezing, or straining. This can look like:

- Neck pain and stiffness often together with arm, shoulder blade, or upper back
- Numbness &/or pin and needles in arms and hands.
- Loss of arm muscle strength or grip strength


Diagnostic Test

Clinical examination is required to diagnose including testing of skin sensation, reflexes, and muscle strength. In addition, special maneuvers known as orthopedic tests may be performed. CT or MRI is recommended for confirmation of the diagnosis.

How Can Chiropractic Help?

Chiropractic care focuses on relieving pressure on the affected spinal nerves from the herniated disc. In addition, chiropractic therapy helps restore proper movement and alignment, and decrease soft tissue inflammation.

Treatment may consist of the application of ice, rest, soft tissue therapy, chiropractic joint manipulation and mobilization, rehabilitation exercises, therapeutic stretches, and the use of therapeutic modalities.

With time, herniated disc symptoms may improve over time. However, medication may be recommended for pain and inflammation control. Local injection or surgery may be required for severe or deteriorating cases.

What Can I Do?

- Following the advice given by your chiropractor or other health practitioner
i.e. Improving work ergonomics, sleeping habits, non-inflammatory diet, supplements to aid in recovery, cervical support/brace, and orthopedic pillow recommendations

- Perform your prescribed exercises daily within your pain tolerance
i.e. McKenzie exercises, neck isometric exercises, and stretches

- Avoid any aggravating activities
i.e. Forward head posture, limiting hobbies and/or activities that cause pain, smoking, and/or drinking

These minor lifestyle improvements make a big difference in recovery and overall spinal health.

Patient Case

Here is a cervical disc herniation case and how they benefited from chiropractic therapy (name and age changed for confidentiality purposes):





Through a combination of therapeutic modalities and treatment, most herniated cervical disc symptoms gradually improve. We can also help with addressing any underlying causes to help promote long-term spine health. Regular follow-ups are generally recommended to monitor progress and make necessary adjustments to the treatment plan.

At Paradise Chiropractic Health & Wellness clinic, our experienced practitioners can treat your neck and back concerns effectively, and in addition give you at-home advice for better self-management. For a complimentary consultation or any other inquiries give us a call at (604) 496-0626, email at, or book online.


Sharrak S, Al Khalili Y. Cervical Disc Herniation. 2023 Aug 28. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan–. PMID: 31536225.