Cervical Disc Herniations

Cervical discs are the cushions or shock absorbers between the bones of your spine, specifically the neck portion of the spine. A cervical disc herniation (herniated disc) is when one of these cervical discs has become injured or degenerated. Herniations can push on the nerves in your neck or the spinal cord itself, causing pain and dysfunction. A range of treatments can ease and eliminate symptoms caused by a herniated cervical disc.

  • Symptoms

  • Causes

  • Treatment Options

  • Pain or stiffness in the neck
  • Pain that radiates to the arms or upper back
  • Headaches
  • Burning, numbness, or weakness down the arms
  • Symptoms may be in one or both arms
  • Neurological issues with balance, walking, using hands, and even bladder function (all caused by more severe cervical disc herniations)
  • Frequently Asked Questions

    Which herniated cervical disc treatment is best?

    The optimal treatment for cervical disc herniations depends on many personal factors, and what is best for one person may not be best for another. Each treatment also has its own inherent advantages. For example, conservative treatments that prove effective will save the individual from having to undergo surgery. Cervical disc replacement with an artificial disc has a shorter recovery than neck fusion and preserves natural motion that can slow the degeneration of other cervical discs. Anterior cervical procedures facilitate a smoother surgical experience: the surgeon has better disc access, and the patient has a significantly faster recovery with less postoperative pain. Dr. Pehler will carefully consider your situation before recommending the best herniated cervical disc treatment for you.

    Who is a candidate for surgery to correct a cervical disc herniation? 

    Candidates for neck surgery should be in good overall health with full skeletal maturity. Symptoms and a proper diagnosis must be confirmed. Candidates will usually have tried conservative nonsurgical treatments for neck pain without experiencing long-term symptom relief. Various factors including the severity of the disc herniation and associated symptoms will determine whether the individual is a candidate for surgery and which surgical procedure will best fit the candidate’s needs.

    What will the surgery recovery be like?

    The details of your recovery will vary depending on the surgical technique chosen. In most cases, patients can return home on the day of the surgery or within 1 to 2 days. A neck collar may be placed to support the spine as it heals; this may need to be worn for up to several weeks depending on the procedure. Typically, some pain and stiffness are common during recovery but will subside as the tissues heal. More details will be provided for you based on your surgical plan.

    What are the risks of surgery for cervical disc herniations? 

    All surgeries carry some risks. These include but are not limited to reactions to anesthesia, nerve injury, reduced movement, discomfort, failure to alleviate symptoms, temporary voice hoarseness/change, temporary discomfort when swallowing, and others. The risks of nerve injury are incredibly low due to modern techniques and careful monitoring of the patient during the procedure. All potential risks and the potential benefits will be discussed with you in detail when you are evaluated in clinic.