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Cervical disc protrusion



  • Compression of the dura mater as a result of a fragment of the cervical disc protruding out of the intervertebral disc
  • Pain is experienced multisegmentally, meaning affecting many levels and may have many or selected pain reference patterns such as:
    • Unilateral neck pain (although it may shift sides)
    • Central neck pain
    • Bilateral pain
  • Pain is most typically felt in
    • Interscapular
    • Trapezius and scapular area
      • Pain may also spread up towards the ear
    • Pain can be felt in
      • Pectoral area or axilla



  • As a result of degeneration of the intervertebral disc / natural aging of disc  1
  • Trauma/injury
    • As a result of fall, whiplash, head injury



  • Cervical disc lesions occur at the intervertebral disc layers, as a result of the nucleus pulposus extruding and protruding through the annulus fibrosus, and then applying pressure towards the dura mater of the spine



  • Cervical disc protrusion is an early stage of disc herniation, a protrusion may not necessarily develop into a herniated disc but usually it is the first step in the development of a herniated disc
  • May begin with either discrete attacks or more suddenly as a result of a trauma
  • In discrete attacks there may be neck pain and pain in trapezius and scapular area which is then reaches spontaneous relief, and this process repeats again later until a protrusion occurs
  • If pain shifts from the scapular area towards the arm, then this may indicate a herniation of the disc has occurred
    • This will put pressure towards the dural investment of the nerve root of the level below the respective level of the herniation
    • See cervical herniated disc document for more information



  • Coughing or sneezing may cause pain in the trapezius or scapular area
  • Sudden pain when moving the head