Cervical Disc Herniation

Terms with the same meaning:

  • Disc protrusion
  • Disc herniation
  • Disc rupture
  • Slipped disc


Disc herniation often results in shooting pain in the arm. It occurs when the tough, outer rim of the disc tears, allowing the soft, central part to squeeze out and contact the nerve which lies adjacent to the disc. Symptoms include pain in the neck and shoulder plus pain that shoots down the arm, which can be associated with weakness, numbness or tingling of the arm or hand. The onset is usually sudden and is typically felt as a cricked neck in the morning followed by pain, which can be severe. In most people symptoms resolve over a few weeks with reduced activity, physiotherapy and medications.

Surgical Treatment

Surgery can relieve unrelenting pain or severe weakness of the arm. There are a few different procedures that may be recommended and the choice is based on the symptom complex and the appearance of scans. These procedures may be performed through incisions on the front or the back of the neck. Most people having this type of surgery on the neck return home after a couple of nights in hospital.

Medical terminology:

  • Intervertebral disc (‘disc’) = fibro-cartilage cushion between vertebrae
  • Annulus = tough, outer rim of disc
  • Nucleus pulposus = soft, inner core of disc
  • Radiculopathy = damage to a spinal nerve