Cervical disc pain overview

Cervical disc pain is pain that occurs in the neck due to a damaged disc in the cervical spine (neck). Often, discs in the cervical spine can become damaged due to years of natural wear with every pivot or movement of the head. What may begin as a slight discomfort in the neck may eventually progress into other chronic symptoms if left untreated.

A damaged disc in the cervical spine could impact a nerve root in the spinal canal. These nerve roots are responsible for sending signals between the brain, head, neck, shoulders, arms and hands. When one of these nerve roots is pinched, the pain and symptoms may extend along the nerve pathway and affect the nearby extremity.

Symptoms of a pinched nerve due to a damaged cervical disc include:

  • Pain and discomfort in the neck
  • Radiating pain into the shoulder, head, arm or hand
  • Numbness or tingling into the shoulder, head, arm or hand
  • Limited mobility in the neck

Because cervical disc pain is often caused by degenerative disc disease, which is a disc that becomes damaged over time as the spine naturally ages, the symptoms of this condition will often start mildly and worsen over time. If you notice pain and discomfort that lasts more than a week, you should contact your doctor or a spine care specialist to determine the cause of your symptoms and the best approach to find pain relief.

Treatments for cervical disc pain

There are several treatment options to try once a damaged cervical disc has been diagnosed. These treatments often begin as nonsurgical options, such as intermittent periods of rest, pain medications, physical therapy and chiropractic care. These treatments help to realign the spine to relieve pressure on the pinched nerve root and lengthen the spine to reduce pressure on the damaged disc so it can begin to heal.

If cervical disc pain does not subside after several weeks or months of treatment, there are surgical options. Traditional open spine procedures include disc removal, the fusion of vertebrae and possibly artificial disc replacement. These surgeries are major undertakings, however, and the patient should expect a large incision that is 6 to 8 inches in length as well as months of recovery time and the chance that the surgery does not help the pain.

A minimally invasive alternative for cervical disc pain

At Laser Spine Institute, we understand that spine surgery is not a decision that should be taken lightly. That is why we offer patients a safer and effective surgery option than traditional open neck surgery.^ Patients with cervical disc damage can find relief through our minimally invasive discectomy, sometimes coupled with a stabilization surgery, depending on the amount of damage to the disc.

If you are a candidate for a minimally invasive discectomy, our board-certified surgeons+ are able to remove the damaged part of the disc through a small incision. We are able to perform this procedure without damaging the muscles and ligaments surrounding the spine. This is a technique not used during traditional open neck surgery, which often requires muscles to be cut and torn in order to reach the spine.

In some cases, if the disc is severely damaged and must be fully removed, the surgeon will replace the disc with an artificial disc and bone grafts to stabilize the spine. This is called a minimally invasive discectomy and stabilization, and is often used to treat patients with severe disc damage in the spine.
Our minimally invasive method allows us to perform all of our procedures on an outpatient basis, so our patients experience a shorter recovery time and are able to eliminate hospital-associated costs.^

Laser Spine Institute is the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery and has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck or back pain. Contact us today for more information about cervical disc pain and for a review of your MRI or CT scan for free.* We can help you take the first step to finding meaningful relief from this debilitating condition.