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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Sacino, MD, PhD

Navigating Treatment Options for Herniated Cervical Disc and Cervical Radiculopathy

Introduction: Herniated cervical discs and cervical radiculopathy can cause pain and discomfort in the neck, shoulders, and arms. Thankfully, modern medicine offers a range of effective treatment options to alleviate these symptoms. In this article, we'll explore these treatments while focusing on their benefits and considerations.

1. Non-Surgical Approaches:

Non-surgical treatments are often the initial approach for managing herniated cervical discs and cervical radiculopathy. These options aim to alleviate pain and promote natural healing.

  • Rest and Activity Modification: In many cases, simple measures like resting the affected area and avoiding activities that exacerbate symptoms can provide relief.

  • Physical Therapy: Customized exercises and manual techniques can improve mobility, reduce pain, and strengthen supportive muscles. A physical therapist can design a program tailored to individual needs.

  • Pain Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or prescribed medications may help manage pain and inflammation.

  • Cervical Traction: This technique involves gentle stretching of the neck to relieve pressure on the affected nerve. It can be done under the guidance of a medical professional.

2. Epidural Steroid Injections:

For more severe or persistent pain, epidural steroid injections might be recommended. These injections deliver anti-inflammatory medication directly to the affected area, providing targeted relief.

3. Surgical Interventions:

When non-surgical treatments don't yield desired results, surgical options may be considered. There are multiple surgical approaches which must be tailored to the individual patient. Some options include:

  • Keyhole Foraminotomy: This minimally invasive procedure involves removing a portion of the bone that's pressing on the nerve root. It's designed to relieve pain and improve nerve function.

  • Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF): ACDF involves removing the damaged disc and replacing it with a bone graft. This stabilizes the spine and alleviates pressure on the nerve. Fusion helps maintain spinal alignment.

  • Artificial Disc Replacement: In this procedure, the damaged disc is replaced with an artificial one. It preserves motion in the spine while reducing pain and maintaining stability. This option may be used based upon specific patient criteria such as age and the facet joint health.

4. Considerations and Factors:

  • Severity of Symptoms: The severity of symptoms plays a crucial role in determining the appropriate treatment. Milder cases may respond well to non-surgical approaches, while severe pain or neurological deficits might necessitate surgical intervention.

  • Patient's Health and Lifestyle: A patient's overall health, medical history, and lifestyle factors influence treatment decisions. Surgical options might be preferable for active individuals seeking quick recovery, while non-surgical methods could be better for those who wish to avoid surgery.

  • Risk-Benefit Analysis: Patients should have a clear understanding of the potential risks and benefits associated with each treatment option so they can make an informed decision. We can discuss in depth during the clinic appointment to ensure that the analysis is tailored to the patient.


Herniated cervical discs and cervical radiculopathy can cause significant discomfort, but a range of treatment options are available to address these issues. From non-surgical approaches and epidural steroid injections to various surgical interventions, individuals can find relief tailored to their unique circumstances. By exploring these options and making informed decisions, individuals can reclaim their comfort and quality of life. Remember, each treatment choice should be guided by expert advice and personalized considerations.

Dr. Amanda Sacino is fellowship-trained spinal neurosurgeon who completed her training at Johns Hopkins Hospital.


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