How to Fix a Herniated Disk in the Neck

Cervical discs are the first seven vertebral discs that separate vertebrae in the neck. A herniation in a disc occurs when the gel-like material in the disc (nucleus pulposus) causes a bulge in the disc’s outer covering (annulus fibrosis.) You can usually fix a herniated cervical disc with supportive treatment, although severe cases may require surgery.

Perform physical therapy. A herniated disc in the neck can benefit from gentle stretching and massage designed to decrease pain and increase flexibility. You should also learn the best posture for herniated cervical discs and the risk factors that can make this condition worse.

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Use support devices, such as neck braces and traction, to temporarily relieve the stress on the herniated disc.

Take medication to relieve pain. This typically includes anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve mild pain and minor swelling. A doctor may also prescribe stronger painkillers for more severe pain.

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Treat muscle spasms. A herniated disc can stress the muscles in the neck, causing them to go into spasms. A hot pack can reduce muscle spasms when applied within 48 hours of an injury. Muscle relaxants can also relieve the spasms caused by a herniated disc.

Consider surgery for severe cases. The most common surgery for a herniated cervical disc is an anterior cervical discectomy. The surgeon removes all or part of the herniated disc and replaces it with a bone graft, usually from the patient’s hip. You’ll usually be released from the hospital within two days and should gradually increase your activity level. The post-operative pain should disappear in two weeks.