Cervical Disc Herniation - Treatment Options
By Peter Johnson
Cervical disc herniation is not as common as
lumbar disc herniation due to two main factors – firstly, there is little disc material found in the cervical spine and secondly, there is not
much force applied along the cervical spine.
Most cases of cervical disc herniation protrude on the side of the
spinal passage and will impinge the (foramen) nerve root. If the nerve roots’ space is compromised due to (osteophytes) bone spurs or the
collapse of the disc space, the impingement added to the disc can irritate the nerve root thus causing radiculopathy (arm pain). If the nerve
root is not compromised, the temporary pain in the arm may be relieved by conventional treatments.
Cervical disc herniation heals on its own or with minimal
conservative treatments and surgery is the last option and reserved only for severe cases of cervical disc herniation. It is always best to trust your physicians advice.
If chronic pain is felt for more that two weeks, doctor-prescribed
oral steroids can be taken to lessen the swelling and pain. Oral sedatives can be taken for extreme pain but only for a few days or a maximum
of two weeks. Nevertheless, it should still be under the supervision of your physician.
If the pain persists, conservative treatments like the following
should be taken:
• Physical therapy or exercise to relieve nerve root
• Chiropractic treatments to also help relive pressure on the
• Manual traction to help open the cervical
You may consider using epidural injections if the pain is not
relieved using physical treatments. The pain caused by cervical disc herniation can be relieved effectively most of the time. If in case the
initial epidural injection does not work, continue with it every two weeks for at least three months. If 2 to 3 months of physical and medical
treatments fail then surgically removing the disc to relieve the pain should be considered, but again only as a last resort.
A CT scan or MRI can be used to confirm the level of the affected
cervical disc herniation. If the symptoms match the scan results the surgery is definitely the best option because it can be reliable in
relieving pain with very minimal risks of complication.
There are two types of surgery for cervical disc herniation. These
are the following:
• Anterior surgery – This surgery opens the foramen to give more
space to the nerve root.
• Posterior surgery – This type of surgery is advisable for
patients with an enlarged disc located in the side of the nerve canal.
Both of these surgeries are proven to be very effective. To know what type of surgery is best for your case of cervical disc herniation, talk to