Site Map    
Dr. Erin Elster    
Upper Cervical Healthcare
Skip Navigation LinksHome > Conditions & Research > Disc Disorders / Herniated Discs

Disc Disorders / Herniated Discs


The intervertebral discs are cartilaginous plates surrounded by a fibrous ring that lie between the vertebral bodies and serve to cushion them. Through degeneration, wear and tear, and trauma, the fibrous tissue (annulus fibrosus) constraining the soft disc material (nucleus pulposus) may tear or become compressed. This squeezing or protrusion of the disc has been called herniated disc, ruptured disc, herniated nucleus pulposus, or prolapsed disc.

How Upper Cervical Care Relates to Disc Disorders / Herniated Discs

Disc disorders are frequently linked to spinal trauma in medical literature.1-22 Often, trauma is directed at the neck during auto accidents, head injuries, sports accidents, and falls. Because the brain stem contains the control center for the postural muscles of the spine, an injury at the upper neck can interfere with the brain's normal control over those postural muscles, leading to muscular weakness, atrophy and spasm throughout the neck and back. Spasm of the spinal muscles can lead to compression of the spinal vertebrae, and ultimately to compression of the cervical, thoracic, and/or lumbar intervertebral discs.

While many disc disorder sufferers recall specific traumas such as head injuries, auto accidents or falls, which could have injured their spines, some do not. An evaluation is necessary in each individual's case to assess whether an upper cervical injury is present and whether benefit from upper cervical care can be achieved.

Case Studies

View Case Studies related to Disc Disorders / Herniated Discs

Research Articles and Publications
  1. Hamer AJ, Gargan MF, Bannister GC. Whiplash injury and surgically treated cervical disc disease. Injury 1993 Sep; 24(8): 549-50.
  2. Callaghan JP, McGill SM. Intervertebral disc herniation: studies on a porcine model exposed to highly repetitive flexion/extension motion with compressive force. Clin Biomech 2001 Jan; 16(1): 28-37.
  3. Adams MA, Freeman BJ, Morrison HP. Mechanical initiation of intervertebral disc degeneration. Spine 2000 Jul 1; 25(13): 1625-36.
  4. Dai L, Jia L. Central cord injury complicating acute cervical disc herniation in trauma. Spine 2000 Feb 1; 25(3): 331-5; discussion 336.
  5. Kramer J, Wiese M, Haaker R. Intervertebral disk displacement and trauma. Orthopade 200` Feb; 30(2): 121-7.
  6. Weisskopf M, Bail H, Mack M. Value of MRI in traumatic disco-ligament instability of the lower cervical spine. Unfallchirurg 1999 Dec; 102 (12): 942-8.
  7. Abumi K, Shono Y, Kotani Y. Indirect posterior reduction and fusion of the traumatic herniated disc by using a cervical pedicle screw system. J Neurosurg 2000 Jan; 92(1 Suppl): 30-7.
  8. Katzberg RW, Benedetti PF, Drake CM. Acute cervical spine injuries: prospective MR imaging assessment at a level 1 trauma center. Radiology 1999 Oct; 213(1): 203-12.
  9. Johansson B. Degeneration of the cervical vertebral disk is seldom the only cause of disk herniation. Cause of disk herniation is a common dispute in insurance cases after whiplash injuries. Lakartidningen 1999 Aug 25; 96(34): 3540-1.
  10. Bucciero A, Carangelo B, Cerillo A. Myeloradicular damage in traumatic cervical disc herniation. J Neurosurg Sci 1998 Dec; 42(4): 203-11.
  11. Keiper MD, Zimmerman RA, Bilaniuk LT. MRI in the assessment of the supportive soft tissues of the cervical spine in acute trauma in children. Neuroradiology 1998 Jun; 40(6): 359-63.
  12. Kotilainen EM, Karki T, Satomaa OK. Traumatic cervical disc herniation-tetraparesis in a patient kicked by a horse. Acta Orthop Scand 1997 Apr; 69(2): 176-7.
  13. Makela JP, Hietaniemi K. Neck injury after repeated flexions due to parachuting. Aviat Space Environ Med 1997 Mar; 68(3): 228-9.
  14. Jensen MV, Tuchsen F, Orhede E. Prolapsed cervical intervertebral disc in male professional derivers in Denmark, 1981-1990. A longitudinal study of hospitalizations. Spine 1996 Oct 15; 21(20): 2352-5.
  15. Carreon LY, Ito T, Yamada M. Histologic changes in the disc after cervical spine trauma: evidence of disc absorption. J Spinal Disord 1996 Aug; 9(4): 313-6.
  16. O'Brien CP. Rugby neck: cervical degeneration in two front row rugby union players. Clin J Sport Med 1996 Jan; 6(1): 56-9.
  17. Zimmer G. A causal relationship between a collision and an intervertebral disc prolapse. Dtsch med Wochenschr 1995 Oct 27; 120(43): 1487.
  18. Moraes AC, Serdeira A, Pereira Filho A. Soft tissue injuries associated with traumatic locked facets in the cervical spine. Paraplegia 1995 Aug; 33(8): 434-6.
  19. Jonsson H Jr., Cesarinik, Sahlstedt B. Findings and outcome in whiplash-type neck distortions. Spine 1994 Dec 15; 19(24): 2733-43.
  20. Pettersson K, Hildeingsson C, Toolanen G. MRI and neurology in acute whiplash trauma. No correlation in prospective examination of 39 cases. Acta Orthop
  21. Scand 1994 Oct; 65(5): 525-8.
  22. Davis SJ, Teresi LM, Bradley WG Jr. Cervical spine hyperextension injuries: MR findings. Radiology 1991 Jul; 180 (1): 245-51.
  23. Schlegel KF. Undiagnosed fractures and intervertebral disk ruptures in whiplash injuries. Hefte Unfallheilkd 1971; 108: 32-4.

The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.