Cervical Disc Disease

In between each vertebra, there is a disc made up of strong connective tissues, which hold one vertebra to the next and acts as a cushion or shock absorber, and allows for bending and rotation of the neck. Over time, the disc can deteriorate, the outer layer can tear, and the disc can become less effective as a cushion. Sudden violent movement or the accumulation of natural movements over time can cause the disc to bulge into the space occupied by the nerves and spinal cord in a condition known as a herniated or ruptured disc.

The herniated disc can press on the spinal cord or nerve root(s) and cause stiffness, pain, numbness, tingling or weakness in the shoulders or arms. In more serious cases, pressure on the spinal cord can result in leg weakness or difficulty with walking and balance.

Typically, simple palliative care such as ice or warm compresses, cervical collar, and physical therapy may be enough to resolve symptoms. Anti-inflammatory and/or pain medication may be considered as well. Surgery may be necessary for patients whose symptoms do not improve with these treatments. The goal of surgery is to remove the portion of the disc that is pushing on the nerve.

The following types of surgery are done to treat cervical disc disease:

Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF)

Posterior Cervical Discectomy


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