My doctor has told me I need surgery to remove a disc in my neck that's pressing on my spinal cord. What would happen if I didn't have the operation?

Pain and weakness from a bulging disc putting pressure on the spinal cord is called cervical myelopathy. Cervical refers to the neck, and myelopathy means spinal cord disease or problem.

Early treatment with surgery is often advised for this problem. Without surgery, neurologic function can get worse over time. Changes can even be permanent.

Besides muscle weakness and pain, bladder changes occur in up to half of all patients with cervical myelopathy. The bladder may become too active. In some cases the bladder has no sensation. Lifelong urinary problems can be avoided with early intervention.