Cervical Disc


Mod – high

6 wks – 12 months

Facet joint

What is a cervical disc injury?

Discs have got some bad press recently = lots of fear associated with disc problems. And to be fair, they have a point – discs can be incredibly painful and cause big disruptions to life. But – they heal. Quick anatomy: Cervical = neck. Disc = tough outside ring + more flexi stuff inside ring. Like a super resilient jam donut. Discs are incredibly strong but they can get injured or become stressed with too much load. We try and avoid words like ‘slipped’ because, well, its not actually possible for a disc to ‘slip’ and it can be quite fearifying to think of your disc motoring off down your arm or crawling down the back of your shirt. In most disc injuries that have some bulging involved we find that the body cleverly reduces the bulge. It goes back in! So join in with Brightside on the de-fearifying of disc injuries!

Why does a cervical disc injury happen?

You can have an injury – think a bookshelf landing on your head or a rugby tackle. Or it can be a longer ‘loading’ issue which is more like a straw breaking backs of camels type problem. The injury type are usually very painful and can involve some nerve symptoms like numbness, pins + needles, weakness etc. The slower type – loading – is more like poking a bruise a 100 times until it gets really sore. These can also involve some nerve changes but often there won’t be a single incident, more of a gradually increasing rubbish nervy feeling.

What can you do about a cervical disc injury?
Cervical Disc Physiotherapy in Newcastle.

1. Don’t panic! Discs get better. If you’ve got a scan of some type that says you’ve got a dodgy disc – remember that they heal. They can be super painful but not forever.
2. Unload it. Early on, try and minimise the stuff that really sets it off. If working on your laptop just feels horrible – try a standing desk or moving around more. If driving feels like death – get someone to drive you or minimise how often you need to drive. Get your physio to strap it if it feels more supported.
3. Strengthen it. Get this happening (gently) ASAP. You need those muscles to support your sore neck. Keep the exercise within pain and remember every marathon starts with a first step (and in my opinion every marathon starts with slightly unhinged psycholog. Ha!)
4. Move it. Especially your upper back (thoracic spine). It’ll help take some of the pressure off your neck. Gentle movements to encourage the neck itself to move help too. Again – key is do it outside of pain.

How long will a cervical disc injury take?

It can take a while. Depending on which bit of research you read it can be up to 12 months of healing. This doesn’t mean that it won’t feel any better until 12 months! It just means the healing time is longer for a disc than for a muscle (for example). You should start feeling a bit better within 6-8 wks. The worse the injury, the more likely it is that you’ll have to practice patience. But – you got this!


You might need a scan if these things happen: 1/ your arm feels very weak and it is stopping you doing normal life stuff 2/ there is yucky pain radiating down your arm that doesn’t let up. Best scan is an MRI. It’s got more detail in it about all the neck structures you need to know about. Don’t worry too much about all the latin in the report (if you read it). Get your physio to explain it in non-jargon-y language so you can be clear about what is going on.

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If pain persists, you may require the help of a professional physio. Contact Brightside Physio to make an appointment.


Brightside Physio
90 Elder St
Lambton (Newcastle)
NSW 2299

New location!
15 Lambton Rd
Broadmeadow (Newcastle)
NSW 2292



Find parking via De Vitre Street and walk down side alley to Elder Street entrance.



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Call us on (02) 4062 8862