In addition to anti-inflammatory medications, there are a number of non-surgical treatment options that can help alleviate the pain from a cervical herniated disk, such as:
• Physical therapy and exercise. Just as in the lumbar spine, Mckenzie exercises can be used to help reduce the pain in the arm. In the initial period a physical therapist may also opt to use modalities, such as heat/ice or ultrasound, to help reduce muscle spasm.
• Cervical traction. Traction on the head can help reduce pressure over the nerve root. It does not work for everyone but is easy to do, and if effective the patient can use a home traction device for pain from a cervical herniated disc.
• Chiropractic manipulation. Gentle manipulation can help reduce the joint dysfunction that may be an added component of the pain. High velocity manipulations should be avoided as
they can make the pain worse, or worsen any neurological damage.
• Osteopathic medicine. Osteopathic manipulation and special techniques to restore normal
joint motion can be helpful in reducing pain from a cervical herniated disc.
• Activity modification. Some types of activities may tend to exacerbate the herniated disc
pain and it is reasonable to avoid these activities to keep from irritating the nerve root. Such
activities may include heavy lifting (over 50 pounds), activities that can cause increased vibration and compression to the cervical spine (boating, snowmobile riding, running, etc.), and overhead activities that require prolonged neck extension and/or rotation.
• Bracing. In some instances a cervical collar or brace may be recommended to help provide some rest for the cervical spine.
• Medications. In addition to the anti-inflammatory medications mentioned above, narcotic
agents (pain killers) might be used on a temporary basis to help reduce the pain and discomfort from a cervical herniated disc. Also, muscle relaxants or certain anti-depressants may help reduce the nerve-type pain (neuropathic pain) and help restore normal sleep patterns.