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Cervical Disc Herniation


Cervical disc herniation

occurs when a cervical disc bulges out. Cervical discs are natural, spongy cushions between the vertebrae (bones) in your neck. The bulging disc may press on your nerves or spinal cord.

Cervical Disc Herniation

Common signs and symptoms:

A mild cervical disc herniation may not cause any signs and symptoms. You may have signs and symptoms if the bulging disc presses against your nerves or spinal cord. You may have any of the following:

  • Neck pain
  • Arm, shoulder, and upper back pain
  • Weakness, numbness, tingling, or a burning feeling in your arms or hands
  • Headaches
  • Trouble moving your neck or arms, or using your hands
  • Leg weakness and trouble walking

Seek care immediately:

  • You suddenly have trouble breathing.
  • You lose feeling in one or both of your arms.
  • You are suddenly not able to move your neck, or one or both of your arms.
  • You are not able to move one or both of your legs.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your pain gets worse, even after you take medicine.
  • Your voice suddenly becomes hoarse.
  • You have trouble swallowing.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


Your healthcare provider may have you rest in bed for a few days. You may also have any of the following:

  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling and pain. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask how to take this medicine safely.
  • Muscle relaxers decrease pain and muscle spasms.
  • A steroid injection may be given to reduce inflammation. Steroid medicine is injected into the epidural space. The epidural space is between your spinal cord and vertebrae. You may be given pain medicine along with the steroids.
  • Physical therapy may be recommended by your healthcare provider. A physical therapist teaches you exercises to make your neck muscles stronger. A physical therapist also teaches you stretches to decrease your pain.
  • Surgery may be needed to fix your bulging disc if other treatments do not work. Surgery may be done to decrease pressure on your nerves and spinal cord. Surgery may be done to remove your bulging disc. Your healthcare provider may replace the disc with a bone graft (bone from another area of your body) or an artificial disc.

Manage your symptoms:

  • Rest as directed. Your healthcare provider may have you rest in bed to prevent further injury to your neck. Ask how long you should rest and when you can return to your daily activities.
  • Apply heat on your neck for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed. Heat helps decrease pain and muscle spasms.
  • Apply ice on your neck for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel before you apply it to your skin. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Cervical Disc Herniation (Ambulatory Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.