Disc prolapses can occur in the neck as well as the lower back. The mechanism for them to occur is very similar but unlike the lumbar spine, the prolapsed cervical disc will cause pressure on the nerve going down the arm rather than down the leg. Symptoms like the lumbar spine, can be quite dramatic at first, but again there is potential for improvement without invasive management in the form of surgery. A cause for concern in the cervical spine is that it is possible for compression of the spinal cord with rather more far reaching consequences. A central disc prolapse remains as uncommon as they are in the lumbar spine. Cervical discs are designed in exactly the same way as the lumbar spine but are much smaller and tend to take considerably less load.
In the cervical spine, the treatment options essentially are very similar to those on the lumbar spine. These are an initial period of either physiotherapy, chiropractic or osteopathy. This can be followed by injections around the nerve root that is causing the symptoms to try and reduce inflamation thereby reducing symptoms non-operatively.
If these non-operatives interventions do not assist symptoms during the phase of natural healing then surgery can be offered. In the cervical spine, the operation is done from the front as it is too hazardous to remove a cervical disc from around the spinal cord. This although rather odd sounding is in fact a straight forward approach to the cervical spine, the disc is removed in its entirety in this fashion. The gap can be filled with nothing at all but it is a preference at SpineWorks to put in a cage spacer to maintain the gap between the vertebrae where the disc has been removed. This segment is therefore stiffened. This tends not to have too many disadvantages in the cervical spine but is more of a problem in the lumbar spine. General neck symptoms can co-exist with arm pain and include such problems as headaches, pain referring to the shoulder blades, pain referring into the shoulders themselves and chest pain.