Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease

Your cervical discs act as natural shock absorbers, and when they begin to degenerate, it can cause lots of radiating pain in the arms, neck, and shoulders. In addition to the pain, cervical disc disease can also cause numbness, weakness, and loss of mobility. This process, known as cervical degenerative disc disease, occurs when the space between the cervical vertebrae constricts and the nerve roots are pinched.  About a quarter of people under age 40, and approximately 60 percent of people over 40 may experience asymptomatic degenerative disc disease. Eventually however, as time progresses the neck will lose it flexibility and the symptoms will worsen.


The most conspicuous symptoms of cervical degenerative disc disease are stiffness and pain in the neck. For a physician to diagnose your symptoms, they will first need to take a medical history to find out the severity of your degeneration. They will most likely ask the patient to undergo a neurological exam in order to test their strength, reflexes, and the sensations in the extremities. In addition to these tests, your doctor may perform the following:


·      Imaging tests such as X-rays

·      MRIs

·      CT scans


This specific testing can help your doctor visualize your spine in order to get a clear view of the problems in your spinal cord. Fortunately, those who present symptoms of cervical disc pain can usually treat their condition without surgery. Medications like Tylenol, Aleve, or other NSAIDs can help reduce pain and relieve inflammation in the affected regions. Depending on the severity of your pain, your doctor may also prescribe steroids or other painkillers if OTC medications do not work. Physical therapy is also an option for those whose pain is not relieved with medication.


As always, surgery is a last resort option, and depends on the patient’s level of pain, and time spent on conservative treatments. Patients who suffer from cervical degenerative disc disease qualify for discectomies, particularly posterior discectomy, and in some cases, artificial disc replacement.  For more information about neck pain, diseases, or degenerating discs, please contact .