Cervical Disc Disease and Neck Pain
The human body doesn’t last forever; after decades of lifting, bending, turning, and twisting, some parts and areas, including the cervical discs, degenerate. Unsurprisingly, about two-thirds of people will suffer neck pain at some point during their lives due to cervical disc disease. However, cervical disc disease Roswell goes beyond neck pain; it can cause radiating pain, numbness, and weakness in your shoulders, arms, and hands. More than physical discomfort, these symptoms can significantly negatively impact your overall quality of life.
What are cervical discs?
The spine in your neck or cervical spine consists of seven vertebrae separated by small discs filled with a gel-like substance. These discs cushion the vertebrae making up the spine, stabilize your neck, and allow for smooth movement. Your cervical discs will enable you to turn smoothly from side to side and bend forward and back; without them, the spine would be very stiff. The spinal discs act as shock absorbers and allow your body to move the way you want.
The course of cervical disc degeneration
As you age, the cervical discs start to degenerate due to gradual wear and tear, causing the space between the vertebrae to narrow and the nerve roots to become compressed. As the degeneration progress, your neck becomes less flexible, and you may experience symptoms such as neck pain and stiffness, especially in the evening. Almost everyone who lives long enough will have some degree of degenerative disc disease, but symptoms may or may not be present.
When the exterior of the cervical discs wears or tears, the nucleus bulges out, putting pressure on the nerve roots or spinal cord. Usually, cervical disc degeneration is slow, but a herniated disc can occur suddenly after an injury or trauma to the neck. Pain and stiffness in the neck are classic symptoms of cervical degenerative disease. But when one or more spinal nerves are pressed, you could experience pain, numbness, or weakness radiating down your shoulders, arms, and hands.
Is there treatment for cervical degenerative disc disease?
If you have a cervical degenerative disease or even a slipped disc, there are good chances that you can treat it without surgery. Usually, as the first line of treatment, physicians recommend over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen, naproxen, and ibuprofen. These medications can help alleviate pain and medications, but if they are not working, your doctor may prescribe steroids or narcotic painkillers.
Physical therapy is also a conservative treatment option for cervical disc disease. By using cervical traction or gently manipulating your joints and muscles, your physical therapist can help reduce pain and stiffness in your neck. Your physical therapist can also guide you through exercises and postures to alleviate neck pain and increase your range of motion.
These conservative treatments are usually all you need to alleviate neck pain and stiffness. It is vital to contact your doctor right away if you have severe pain and significant numbness or weakness. You and your doctor will need to consider your next step in treatment if medications and physical therapy don’t work for you. Surgery may be an option, but deciding whether you need it is often subjective.
If you have any questions about cervical disc disease, consult your healthcare provider at Apex Spine and Neurosurgery.