Disc protrusion in the neck

A disc protrusion in the neck is a condition in which a disc in the cervical (upper) region of the spine has pushed beyond its normal boundaries. Neck pain and other symptoms can occur if a protrusion presses on nerve roots or the spinal cord.

A disc protrusion in the neck can have a debilitating effect on many simple everyday activities, like nodding, reading, laughing, sleeping or driving, that rely on the smooth motion and structural integrity of the neck. If you are experiencing symptoms that you believe are related to a cervical disc protrusion or similar condition, it is important to see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment. By learning more about the potential causes of neck pain and other symptoms, you can become more engaged with this process and give yourself a better chance of getting back to a better quality of life.

Causes of neck disc protrusion

The spinal discs are shock-absorbing pads located between the vertebrae. They help maintain the spinal structure while allowing a wide range of smooth motion. As we age however, these discs can lose water content and elasticity, making them more prone to damage.

As the discs weaken, they may lose their shape and push beyond their normal boundary. This process may create a bulge or protrusion of disc material that applies compressive pressure to surrounding spinal nerves. A disc protrusion in the neck, even if it is a mild disc protrusion, may cause radiating pain, tingling, numbness and loss of mobility.

Diagnosing a neck disc protrusion

The first step in recovering from a disc protrusion in the neck is to receive a diagnosis and treatment plan. When consulting your doctor, try to be specific and honest when describing your symptoms. The following questions are likely to be asked:

  • Do you experience severe headaches?
  • Do you ever feel a prolonged, dull ache in your neck?
  • Do you feel sharp pain radiating down your shoulders and arms?
  • Do your hands ever go numb?
  • Do your arms and/or hands feel weak?

You will also likely receive a physical examination and diagnostic testing, such as an MRI, to confirm diagnosis of your condition.

Treatment for neck disc protrusion

Once you have received a diagnosis from a physician, the next step is usually a course of conservative treatment. This may include a combination of pain medication, physical therapy, hot/cold compresses and lifestyle changes.

If your symptoms do not respond to conservative treatment and your condition worsens, your doctor may then recommend surgery. It is important to explore the full range of surgical options when deciding on the best treatment for you.

If you are concerned about the risks and difficulties that go with a traditional open spine procedure, contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn about the benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery. Our minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures are an outpatient alternative to traditional open neck and back surgery, offering our patients a shorter recovery time with less risk of complication.^

Reach out to us today for your no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.