Treatments for Cervical Disc Disease: Frequently Asked Questions
Could I Become Addicted to Prescription Painkillers?
It is possible to become addicted to narcotic painkillers, which is why some
doctors are reluctant to prescribe them. But opioid medications such as
codeine, acetaminophen and hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab), or aspirin and
oxycodone (Percodan) can be appropriate if over-the-counter medications aren't
relieving your pain. When making the decision to use narcotic drugs, you and
your doctor should carefully weigh the risks of these drugs against their
benefits. Follow your doctor's advice and take the medication only as
How Long Will It Take me to Recover From a Herniated Disc or Degenerative Disc Disease?
Recovery times for a herniated disc or degenerative disc disease vary from
person to person, depending on the extent of your cervical disc disease and the
type of treatment you're using. For most people, conservative treatments such
as medication or physical therapy will improve their symptoms within about six
Do I Need Surgery to Treat my Neck Pain From a Herniated Disc or Degenerative Disc Disease?
You might be a good candidate for surgery if your neck pain is severe and
hasn't responded to conservative treatment after more than six weeks, or if you
have pain, numbness, or weakness in your shoulders, arms, or hands. However,
most people with these conditions improve with conservative care.
There are many types of disc replacement and fusion surgeries to treat a
herniated disc or degenerative disc disease. How well you do after surgery will
depend on your age, diagnosis, and the type of procedure you have. But the
majority of people with cervical disc disease who require surgery do get
relief. Even after a successful surgery, however, it is possible to develop a
herniated disc disease above or below the previously affected disc.
What new Treatments Are on the Horizon for Herniated Discs or Degenerative Disc Disease?
One new herniated disc treatment is already available. In 2007, the FDA
approved the first implantable artificial disc for cervical disc replacement
surgery. The artificial disc can improve pain while preserving range of motion
in the neck. Today, scientists are also looking at ways to slow or even reverse
the degenerative process to help protect discs from damage before it
Once I Recover, What Precautions Can I Take to Prevent Another Injury?
To prevent future neck problems, stretch your neck regularly and perform
aerobic exercises (for example, walking, swimming, or biking) for at least 30
minutes on most, if not all, days of the week. If you smoke, quit. Pay
attention to your posture, whether you're standing, sitting, or lying down.
Always hold your neck straight and keep your back well supported.