Cervical disc disorders are caused by an abnormality in one or more discs, or the cushions that sit between the neck bones (vertebrae). When a disc is damaged -- due to arthritis or other causes -- it can result in neck or back pain from inflammation or muscle spasm. In severe cases, pain and numbness can occur in the arms from pressure on the cervical nerve roots. A similar scenario can unfold in the lower back, with pain and numbness possibly moving down to your legs and feet.
Surgery for cervical disc disease normally requires removing the disc that is pinching the nerve or pressing on the spinal cord. This surgery is called a discectomy. Depending on the location of the disc and other factors, a small incision may be all that's needed. A similar technique, microdiscectomy, removes the disc through a smaller incision using a microscope or other magnifying device.
To close the space that's left when the disc is removed and restore the spine to its original height, there are generally two options: cervical fusion, which uses bond graft to fill the space, or artificial cervical disc replacement.
Those who get an artificial disc can opt for cervical fusion later. But if you have cervical fusion first, it's not possible to later put an artificial disc in the same spot.