My MRI showed I have a ruptured disc in my neck that is putting mild pressure on the spinal cord. My doctor feels my symptoms aren't too bad and that we can fix them without surgery. Is there any way to tell whether treatment without surgery will work for me?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may give clues as to whether you'll improve without surgery. An MRI can show the type and location of the disc that's causing the pressure in your neck. This information can help determine whether you'll get good results without surgery.

"Diffuse" herniations that spread out are more likely to heal without surgery than those confined to smaller spaces. Diffuse herniations tend to shrink with time, and the pressure on the spinal cord eventually goes away.

Herniations near the front and middle of the spinal cord seem to improve without surgery more often than those off to the side. This is because the spinal canal is widest in front, so the spinal cord isn't squeezed as easily by a disc pressing in from the front.

Depending on the type and location of the ruptured disc, your doctor may suggest trying a neck brace for a few months. If you still don't feel better, surgery may be the next step.