A herniated disk in the neck is frequently called a ruptured or slipped disk, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons 2. It typically creates pain in the surrounding regions, often radiating to other parts of the body. The disks—the soft pads between the vertebrae—absorb shock and provide the ability to flex and bend. Since the center of the spinal column that is made up of vertebrae and disks houses the spinal cord and nerves, if anything is out of alignment, the nerves get pinched, and pain is likely to ensue.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Neck and Shoulder Pain

One of the symptoms of a ruptured disk in the neck is pain in that region. Any time there is pressure on a nerve in that area, it can create a radiating pain around the neck and shoulder muscles, sometimes even traveling all the way down the arm. This pain may travel slowly, or it may be fast, also described as a shooting pain.


Some people who have a ruptured disk in the neck experience headaches. This is from the nerves in the neck being pinched and tightening beneath the neck, creating additional stress to the region, typically in the back part of the head.

Numbness or Tingling

People with ruptured disks often experience a numbness or tingling sensation in the neck, shoulders and arms. This symptom comes and goes, depending on the activities of the sufferer. Repetitive motion may exacerbate the condition and create a heavy but numb feeling in the arms.

Burning Sensation in the Muscles

When stressed, the ruptured disk may create a burning sensation in the shoulders neck and arms. This may happen while lifting too much weight or putting the neck in a position that pinches the nerve. The burning sensation may go away within minutes, or it may last longer.

Wrist or Elbow Pain

During repetitive motion, the wrist may begin to hurt, burn or tingle, often mimicking the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff problems or gout, according to SpineUniverse.com. The pain may start at the neck, elbow or wrist.

Muscle Spasms

When the muscle is stressed, the nerves running from the ruptured disk area may cause them to twitch or spasm. This is sometimes, but not always, accompanied by sharp, shooting pain.