What to Know About Cervical Herniated Disc Surgery

A herniated disc is the one that extends beyond the capsule containing it and pushes it into the spinal canal. You may have a herniated disc anywhere in your spine, even in your neck, but it is more likely to occur in the lower back.

A ruptured herniated disc is pushed into the center of her cell through the outer edge of the disc and back into the spinal canal, which affects the spinal cord roots. Pressure, damaged arteries can be the result of changes in spinal depression or injury.

There are usually 23 disks in the human spine. Each disk has three parts:

  • Nucleus pulposus; This is an internal disk-like component that gives the spine flexibility and strength.
  • Annulus fibrosis; This is a hard outer layer that surrounds the pulposus nucleus.
  • Cartilaginous endplates; These are cartilage fragments that live between the disc and the adjacent vertebrae.

In a herniated disc, annulus fibrosis ruptures or ruptures. This damage allows part of the nucleus pulposus to push into the spinal canal. Sometimes, herniated material can push on the nerve, causing pain and affecting movement.

The goal of surgery for a herniated cervical disc is to remove the damaged disc and ensure that the nerve roots and / or spinal cord are reduced. This procedure can reduce the flow of pain and prevent further damage to the nervous system, such as tremors, numbness and / or weakness in the arm.

Types of surgery for a cervical herniated disc

Some common types of surgery for cervical herniated disc include:

  1. Posterior cervical discectomy; This surgery is similar to a back lumbar discectomy. It can be a satisfactory mechanism for cervical discs that fall to the side in the skull.
  2. Anterior cervical discectomy; ACDF surgery is the most popular method of spinal surgery for treating herniated disc herniation. In this surgery, the disc is removed through a small incision one inch in front of the neck.
  3. Cervical artificial disc replacement; As with ACDF surgery, artificial disc replacement surgery involves removing the affected disc through a small incision in front of the neck.

Benefits of neck surgery

As mentioned earlier, no one wants to undergo surgery and most people will avoid it as much as possible. However, neck surgery also offers several important benefits that you should be aware of. They include:

  • Slight pain and thus quality of life. Once you have fully recovered, you will be able to resume your normal life, without ever thinking about getting debilitating pain again. Having neck pain is a debilitating and life-threatening condition, but surgery can resolve the issue.
  • Better health. Usually, neck pain is a symptom of a underlying condition that should be addressed. With surgery, this issue is addressed, and thus stops getting worse.

Who needs surgery?

Most herniated discs do not require surgery. In approximately 9 out of 10 people, the symptoms will go away in days to weeks. Some people who have a herniated disc do not notice any symptoms. Sometimes, however, a herniated disc presses against the nerve in the spinal column.

This can cause pain, numbness, or weakness in the part of the body where the nerves travel. If pain does not respond to conservative treatment, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and physiotherapy, a person should talk to his or her doctor.

The doctor may recommend surgery, depending on the level of pain and disability of the person. In rare cases, a herniated disc can affect the arteries that control the bladder and intestines. Surgery will be necessary to reduce pressure on the arteries and restore bladder and intestinal function.

Symptoms of cervical herniated disc

Even a small hernia can cause severe pain because there is not much space for nearby arteries. Hand pain can occur when the disc material presses on the cervical nerve, causing pain to shine under the nerve in the arm.

In addition to hand pain, tremors and numbness may occur in the hand and spread to the tips of the fingers. Muscle weakness can also occur. Depending on the location of the resulting disk, you may show slightly different symptoms:

C4-C5 Vertebrae; Herniation in this area can cause shoulder pain and weakness in the upper arm muscles (deltoid), but usually does not cause neurological symptoms and numbness.

C5-C6 Vertebrae; A slippery disk at this level can affect the strength of the biceps and arm muscles. Numbness and irritability can radiate up to the thumb. This is a common place for herniation to occur.

C6-C7 Vertebrae; Herniation at this level of the spine can be manifested as pain in the back of the shoulder that extends from the lower back of the upper arm (triceps) to the top of the forehead and arm. Numbness and irritability can brighten up to the thumb.

Several factors increase the risk for disc herniation:

  • Lifestyle options such as tobacco use, lack of regular exercise, and poor nutrition contribute significantly to poor disc health.
  • As the body ages, biochemical changes in the body cause the intervertebral discs to dry out gradually, affecting the disc stability and durability.
  • Poor posture as well as regular use of incorrect body mechanics can put extra stress on the cervical spine.

Combine these factors with the effect from daily wear and tear, injury, improper lifting, or distortion, and it is easy to understand why a disk can be damaged. Disc inflammation can occur suddenly or slowly for weeks or months.

Causes of cervical herniated disc

Naturally, it is not easy to pinpoint the exact cause of a cervical herniated disc. More often than not, the beginning is slow and for no apparent reason. Although this may be the case, sometimes the reasons can be reduced to the following:

  • Age; Discs that have undergone a natural aging process are more likely to develop a hernia. When the patient is young, their discs are very watery. Over time, the amount of water available on the disk decreases. This makes the affected discs much less flexible, meaning that the chance of accidental injury is much higher.
  • Genetics; Spinal disorders often run in families with herniated cervical discs unfortunately not an exception to the rule.
  • Movement; In some cases, sudden or severe movements can cause a herniated disc. If you lift something heavy or twist faster than your back can handle, then you can damage the disc.
  • Traumatic event; In rare cases, a traumatic event such as a fall or car accident can lead to disc leakage.


Discectomies rarely cause problems. However, in rare cases, people may experience the following:

  • bleeding
  • infection
  • tears in the spinal protective layer
  • nerve injury

Herniated disc surgery can be an effective treatment for many people with challenging pain. However, surgeons cannot guarantee a reliable source that symptoms will disappear after surgery. Some people may continue to experience herniated disc pain after a recovery period.

Before surgery

When considering surgery, be sure to consult a qualified orthopedic surgeon (orthopedic or neurosurgical), and get a second opinion. Before recommending one surgical procedure over another, your doctor may prescribe imaging tests, which may include:

  • X-ray; X-ray provides clear images of your vertebrae and joints.
  • Captured tomography; This analysis provides more detailed images of the spinal canal and surrounding structures.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); MRI produces 3-D images of the spinal cord and nerve roots, as well as the discs themselves.
  • Electromyography or Neurological Studies; These measure electrical impulses in nerves and muscles.

These tests will help your surgeon determine the best type of surgery for you. Other important factors in decision making include the location of your herniated disc, your age, and your general health.

Risks and what to expect after surgery

All surgeries carry certain risks, including infection, bleeding, and nerve damage. If the disk is not removed, it may crack again. If you suffer from disc degeneration, you may develop problems with other disks. Following spinal cord surgery, a certain amount of stiffness can be expected. This can be permanent.

After your surgery, you will be given specific discharge instructions regarding when to resume normal activities and when to start exercising. In some cases, physical therapy may be necessary. It is very important to follow your doctor’s recommendations. Most people recover well after disc surgery, but each case is unique. Your personal perspective depends on:

  • details of your surgery
  • any problems you may have encountered
  • your overall health

Treatment of cervical herniated disc surgery

Not all patients need neck surgery. Generally, within 4 to 6 weeks most patients receive non-surgical treatment reducing pain and symptoms. Be optimistic about your treatment plan and remember that less than 5% of spinal problems require surgery.

1. Ice or heat therapy

Applying ice for 15 or 20 minutes at a time can help reduce swelling and reduce pain. Some people may find warming for 15 or 20 minutes at a time also provides relief. Whether using ice or heat, allow 2 hours between applications to reduce the risk of skin damage.

2. Physical therapy

You may have been referred for this treatment after your surgery. Unfortunately, most people will only attend to receive their repair instructions and not follow them.

If you want to get better quickly from your surgery, you need to work on that and that means dedicating yourself to the program and participating in your sessions, as well as doing your homework. This will have a profound effect on your recovery time.

3. Medication

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs help reduce inflammation in the body. Since some of the worst pain caused by a herniated disc results from inflammation of the nerve roots and other tissues. In-store NSAIDs are usually the first recommended medications.

4. Hydration and diet

You must make sure that your blood is full of oxygen and that it is rich in essential vitamins and minerals. This will allow your blood to flow freely and provide essential nutrients to the surgical site, helping to recover.

Although you may feel like you can relax in bed and order Chinese food every night, that is not a good idea. Instead, eat vegetables and fruits and always have water by your side. This will ensure that you stay hydrated throughout the day, fight inflammation and encourage your body to recover.

5. Surgery

The purpose of spinal surgery is to narrow the herniated disc arteries. The most common procedure is discectomy either partial or total removal of a damaged disc. This surgery is usually performed from the front of the neck.

Sometimes it is necessary to reach the herniated disc from the back by removing part of the lamina; a small plate of bones covering the spinal canal. The name of the procedure is laminotomy. In most cases, any procedure can be performed with minimal invasion, and sometimes in an outpatient surgery center for outpatients.