Neck pain can be extremely debilitating — not only does the discomfort cause problems, you can lose range of motion, which affects everything from how you see to how you sleep. In many cases, neck pain is caused by degenerative disc disease, which is a problem that gets worse, rarely better, if left untreated.
To halt the progression of your cervical disc degeneration and to restore pain-free movement in your neck, the team at Texas Spine Consultants, including Dr. Michael Ware Hennessy, offers a wide range of solutions.
In the following, we explore what causes cervical disc degeneration and some treatment options.
Behind cervical disc degeneration
Growing older may bring more wisdom, but it can certainly do a number on your musculoskeletal structure, especially your spine. This foundational structure is comprised of 33 vertebrae that run from the base of your skull to your pelvis, which are separated by 23 discs. These discs are critical to the function in your spine, as they provide cushioning, support, and range of motion.
When it comes to your neck, the main support system is your cervical spine, which is made up of seven small vertebrae that are divided by six discs.
With degenerative disc disease, which tends to strike those areas that enjoy the most movement (namely your lower back and your neck), the discs become brittle because of a loss of moisture. This puts them at risk for herniation, or bulging, and also robs them of their cushioning effect.
To give you an idea about how common this problem is, 60% of people over the age of 40 in the United States report symptoms of degenerative disc disease.
Symptoms of cervical disc degeneration
The breakdown of the discs in your cervical spine can lead to both local and radiating problems that include:
- Pain in your nock
- Loss of range of motion
- Tingling or numbness that travels down your arms and into your hands
- Weakness in your upper extremities
These radiating symptoms are what we call radiculopathies and they can worsen over time.
Your treatment options for cervical disc degeneration
After an extensive review to determine the extent of the degeneration in your cervical discs, we tailor a treatment plan accordingly.
If your cervical issues are relatively new, we prefer to take a more conservative approach with:
- Targeted exercises through physical therapy
- Weight loss
- Anti-inflammatory medications or injections
- Heat and cold therapies
If your pain resists these measures and your cervical disc disease progresses, we may recommend a surgical solution.
At our practice, Dr. Hennessey uses the most advanced technologies available, including minimally invasive surgical techniques, which reduce your risks and speed up your recovery.
To combat neck pain caused by cervical disc disease, Dr. Hennessey can perform an advanced advanced XLIF® lateral lumbar interbody fusion, in which he removes your damaged disc and replaces it with an artificial one, including Mobi-C® artificial cervical discs. This surgery is designed to not only relieve your neck pain, but preserve (or improve) the flexibility in your neck.
To learn more about your treatment options for cervical disc degenerative disease, contact our office in Addison, Texas, to set up an appointment.