Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

The Department of Orthopaedic Surgery offers services and programs through the following Divisions. Use these links to directly access all our Department sites.

Spine

Disc Herniation

Cervical Disc Herniation

The cervical spine consists of the top seven bones, called vertebrae, in your spine located between the skull and chest. The first symptom of cervical disc herniation is usually neck pain. Others symptoms may include:

  • Pain in one arm or in both arms

  • Limited head and neck motion, especially turning to the side of the herniated disc

  • Hyperactive reflexes

  • Spasticity

  • Loss of bladder or bowel control, erectile dysfunction

Signs & Symptoms

The cervical spine consists of the top seven bones, called vertebrae, in your spine located between the skull and chest. The first symptom of cervical disc herniation is usually neck pain. Others symptoms may include:

  • Pain in one arm or in both arms

  • Limited head and neck motion, especially turning to the side of the herniated disc

  • Hyperactive reflexes

  • Spasticity

  • Loss of bladder or bowel control, erectile dysfunction

Diagnosis

Your doctor will check your range of motion in your arms, shoulders and neck. Other tests may include:

  • X-ray — High-energy radiation is used to take pictures of the spine.

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) — An MRI provides detailed pictures of the spine that are produced with a powerful magnet linked to a computer.

  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan — A CT scan uses a thin X-ray beam that rotates around the spine area. A computer processes data to construct a three-dimensional, cross-sectional image.

  • Myelogram — This is an X-ray of your spine taken after a special dye has been injected into the spinal column. It can show pressure on the spinal cord or problems with discs or vertebrae.

  • Discography — This test is sometimes used to evaluate back pain in preparation for surgery.

Treatment

Conservative treatment for cervical disc herniation includes:

  • Rest

  • A cervical collar or neck brace

  • Anti-inflammatory medication

  • Steroid medication

  • Physical therapy that may include cervical traction

Only about 10 percent of cervical herniation patients require surgery. Various surgical procedures are available depending on the severity of herniation. They include:

  • Microdiscectomy or removal of the herniated part of the disc

  • Anterior cervical decompression and fusion in which the disc is removed and the vertebrae are fused together by means of a dowel bone graft, which comes from cadaver bone, between the vertebrae

  • Cervical endoscopic foramenotomy, with or without discectomy, is a minimally invasive procedure in which the herniated disc material is removed using tiny incisions

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