Under normal circumstances, a cervical herniated disc can be treated conservatively and our multidisciplinary approach at SCCNS provides patients options when dealing with pain associated with herniated discs. Before we consider surgery as an option we treat with conservative measures such as:
- Modified activities
- Physical therapy directed exercises
- Cervical traction
- Oral medications to relieve pain and inflammation
- Epidural steroid injections
Unfortunately not all herniated discs can be treated conservatively. If it is found that conservative measures are not working and surgery is necessary, the experts at SCCNS will perform the most minimally invasive procedure required to treat the problem.
The most commonly preferred method of surgery for a herniated disc is an Anterior cervical discectomy and spine fusion (ACDF). During this surgery, the disc is removed through a small one-inch incision in the front of the neck. After removing the disc, the disc space is fused. A plate may be added for added stability and a better fusion rate.
A Posterior cervical discectomy can also be performed for large soft disc herniations that are lateral to (to the side of) the spinal cord. One advantage of this approach is that a spine fusion does not need to be done after removal of the disc. This preserves the normal motion of the cervical spine and may provide for a shorter healing time. However the disadvantage is that the disc space cannot be jacked open with a bone graft to give more space to the nerve root as it exits the spine. Also, since the posterior approach leaves most of the disc in place there is a small chance that a disc herniation may recur in the future. In addition, because the spinal cord is in the way, visualization of the disc space is limited and typically only a disc herniation that is lateral can be approached this way.