Initial treatment includes education, medications, physical exercise and therapy, and injections. Swimming is an excellent choice for these patients due to natural traction or decompression lengthening the spine. NSAIDs, muscle relaxants, and analgesics are the mainstay of medical treatment. Biofeedback, heating pads, electrical stimulation, and relaxation techniques are all beneficial. Epidural steroid injections can produce long-term relief in certain individuals especially if combined with morphine.
If a patient has exhausted conservative treatments for 6-12 months with persisting symptoms and reduced quality of life, they may consider elective surgery such as Artificial Disc Replacement (ADR)
also referred to as Total Disc Replacement (TDR). However, surgery is mandatory in the case of increasing neurological deficits caused by associated nerve compression, if the bowels or bladder are affected, or a condition known as cauda equina syndrome arises. When symptoms and signs point to root compression, 90% of those who undergo surgery experience a favorable outcome.
When the cervical or neck disks are compressed, early surgery (within six months) can lessen the progression. Patients with significant neurologic symptoms (myelopathy) who undergo surgery show a 70% improvement.