Discs that cushion the cervical spine provide protection to the bones of the neck. Over time, motions and movements in the neck may lead to some type of cervical disc degeneration. Gaining some insights into how this process occurs may help patients determine when they need to seek input from their Beverly Hills spine surgeon if this wear and tear leads to ongoing neck pain.
The tissues and joints that support the cervical spine change throughout the aging process. Discs narrow as part of this process, which alters the way the bones in the neck move. In turn, this affects adjacent joints and muscles. These degenerative changes (spondylosis) may result in:
- General neck pain
- Discomfort in the shoulder blades
- Radiating numbness and weakness in the arms
Dehydration of Discs
Discs in the neck become dehydrated as wear and tear occurs throughout adulthood. Referred to as desiccation, this dehydration makes cervical discs less flexible. This loss of moisture may also result in:
- Loss of height between vertebrae
- Release of inflammatory proteins
- Irritation of nerve fibers in the neck
Cervical Disc Collapse
Discs in the neck may eventually collapse enough to the point where very little support is provided. As a result, pressure may be placed on nearby nerve roots, often causing some degree of radiating pain stemming from nerve compression in the neck (cervical radiculopathy). The degree of pain experienced depends on disc placement. In some cases, a collapsed disc may gradually shift to a position that eases nerve-related pain.
Chiropractic adjustments, lifestyle modifications, physical therapy, and over-the-counter and prescription medications are among the most common treatment options for cervical disc degeneration. In some cases, patients might need the cervical disc replacement surgery Beverly Hills surgeons provide. Exercise and dietary changes, in particular, may minimize discomfort if nerves are affected by the gradual wear of discs in the neck. Stronger supporting neck muscles may also minimize discomfort.
If you are experiencing chronic pain in your neck and are looking for relief, reach out to The Spine Institute Center. Dr. Bae and his team of expert surgeons can diagnose the source of your pain and determine the most effective strategy for helping you lead a pain-free life. Call 310-828-7757 today to schedule an in-person evaluation.