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Differential diagnosis of cervical disc prolapse

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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The differential diagnoses of cervical disc prolapse include:

  • cervical spondylosis due to an osteophyte - this is most often indistinguishable from disc prolapse

  • neuralgic amyotrophy - the pain is acute, severe, and localised to the shoulder rather than the neck (1)

  • cervical spine infections - in this condition the local spasm is severe and the pain is constant. X-rays reveal erosion of the vertebral end-plates

  • cervical tumours - a tumour will cause a progressive neurological disturbance and X-rays will reveal destruction of bone

1. Nens van Alfen. The neuralgic amyotrophy consultation. J Neurol. 2007 Jun; 254(6): 695–704.

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