Cervical disc protrusion

Cervical disc protrusion is a condition in which one of the discs of the cervical spine (neck) has bulged or protruded beyond its normal alignment in the spine.

While this sometimes goes unnoticed, the protruding disc could potentially touch a nerve root in the nearby spinal canal, resulting in neck pain and other symptoms. Because the nerve roots in the cervical spinal canal travel between the neck, shoulder, arm and hand, the pain and symptoms could be felt locally or they could be radiating into the nearby extremity. Common symptoms associated with a cervical disc protrusion include:

  • Chronic, local pain in the neck
  • Numbness and tingling in the arms and hands
  • Traveling pain radiating along the nerve throughout the arm
  • Muscle weakness in the shoulders, arms and elbows

The type of pain and symptoms you experience is directly dependent on the location and severity of the damaged disc. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms for more than one week, you should consult your physician to determine if you have a degenerative disc disease, such as a protruding disc, in your neck. Your physician will most likely have you undergo an MRI test or CT scan to determine the cause of your pain and symptoms.

Treatment options for cervical disc protrusion

Many times, symptoms can be managed with a conservative treatment plan that incorporates exercise, rest, heat application and pain medication. Occasionally, however, a patient will not respond to nonsurgical treatment, which means that surgical treatment may be the next option.

As an alternative to intrusive open back surgery, Laser Spine Institute performs minimally invasive spine procedures designed to address cervical disc protrusion and other spine conditions without many of the risks associated with traditional surgery.

For example, our minimally invasive discectomy procedure is performed through a small, 1-inch incision that does not require the muscles near the spine to be disturbed. On the contrary, traditional open back discectomy requires a large incision that detaches the muscles around the spine in order to reach the damaged disc. During our minimally invasive procedure, the protruded part of the disc is removed to relieve pressure on the trapped nerve root.

On certain occasions, our surgeons will perform a stabilization procedure immediately after a discectomy. This happens when the entire damaged disc is removed and an artificial disc must be inserted to stabilize the spine. This procedure is often used for patients with severely protruding discs in the cervical spine.

If you are suffering from chronic pain and symptoms, it’s time to start your journey to wellness. Your first step is to contact our spine care team to review your MRI or CT scan and help you determine your best treatment option to find pain relief.