Having a degenerative disc is very painful. But decades of bending, lifting and twisting can take its toll on your body, especially your neck. Eighty-percent of people suffer from neck pain at some point in their lives. Characterized by the weakening of one or more vertebral discs, this eliminates the natural cushion that is supposed to exist between the vertebrae. This condition happens as we age but it can also result from an injury or repetitive stress.
Cervical disc disease causes radiating pain, along with numbness and weakness in the upper extremities. As a result, this discomfort and loss of mobility can have a big effect on your career, family, and quality of life.
Natural Shock Absorbers
Cervical discs act as natural shock absorbers. When they wear down, pain and swelling can result. The cervical spine in your neck comprises seven bones, known as vertebrae. In between these bones are gel-like substances that provide a cushioning effect. Your cervical discs provide stability to your neck and allow you to swivel it from side to side and up and down easily. The spine would be stiff if you did not have discs.
Over the years, those discs wear out and begin to degenerate, constricting the space between the vertebrae and pinching the nerve roots. This is what is known as cervical degenerative disc disease. You may notice less flexibility in your neck, along with neck pain and stiffness.
A herniated or slipped disc happens when the disc breaks open or bulges out, exerting pressure on the nerve roots or spinal cord. Generally, cervical disc disease refers to the slow, gradual process, while a herniated or slipped disc refers to a sudden onset such as through a neck injury or trauma.
In addition to a painful stiff neck, you may also experience numbness or weakness radiating down your arm or shoulder.
Your doctor may diagnose you with cervical disc disease after performing imaging tests such as x-rays, MRIs or CT scans. Over the counter pain medications can be taken to relieve pain and swelling, as well as steroids or prescription painkillers. Physical therapy can also help.
Surgery is also an option, although a last-ditch one at that. This surgery is called a discectomy, and involves the surgeon removing the deteriorating disc and replacing it with a metal disc.
There is a better way that’s not as invasive.
Cervical epidural steroid injection is a state of the art treatment that relieves pain in the neck, arm and shoulders caused by a pinched nerve within in the cervical spine. Herniated discs and spinal stenosis are two conditions that tend to compress nerves, leading to inflammation and pain. This injected medication helps to decrease nerve swelling.
Contact Summit Spine and Joint Centers for Cervical and Neck Pain
Do you suffer from neck pain and stiffness? Do you want a better solution than invasive surgery? Call us today at 770-962-3642 and make an appointment to visit one our 22 pain centers including our featured location in August for Pain Management in Gainesville, GA.