Summary of Cervical Herniated Disc Treatment Options

Most treatments for a cervical herniated disc are designed to relieve the arm pain. If the pain can be relieved with conservative (non-surgical) treatment, then any weakness or numbness/tingling should resolve with time.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options for a Cervical Herniated Disc

There is usually an inflammatory component that adds to the pain of a cervical herniated disc, so anti-inflammatory medications are usually the first line of treatment. For many people the pain from a cervical herniated disc can be successfully managed with just the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), such as:

  • Ibuprofen (e.g. Advil, Nuprin, Motrin)
  • COX-2 inhibitors (e.g. Celebrex)

If the anti-inflammatory medications do not help with the pain from a herniated disc, then a range of other conservative treatments may be tried, such as physical therapy, traction, bracing, gentle chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, and activity modification.

Article continues below

Stronger pain medications (pain killers, or narcotics) and/or injections may also be tried if the pain from a herniated disc is severe. Muscle relaxants or certain anti-depressants may help reduce any nerve-type pain (neuropathic pain) and help restore normal sleep patterns.

Once the arm pain does start improve it is unlikely to return, although it may take longer for the weakness and numbness/tingling to improve. If conservative treatments reduce the pain, it is reasonable to continue with conservative herniated disc treatment.

Surgery for a Cervical Herniated Disc

If the arm pain does not get better with conservative treatments, or if the patient has severe pain and disability, then surgery can usually provide quick and reliable relief of the pain.

With an experienced spine surgeon, the surgery for a herniated disc is very reliable and can usually be done with a minimum amount of pain and little risk of major complications.