We often don’t fully appreciate how much we rely on a certain area of our body until it’s compromised, which can definitely be said of the neck. Just think, you use your neck to see and hear the world around you so when pain and/or stiffness develops, your senses may be dulled. Not to mention, the discomfort that accompanies neck problems can make activities like working at the computer almost unendurable.
In many cases, neck problems are caused by cervical disc degeneration, or degenerative disc disease, and the good news is that there are solutions.
Here at Texas Spine Consultants, as our name suggests, we excel in treating problems that develop in your spine. Our team, which includes Michael Hennessy, MD, Robert Viere, MD, Andrew Park, MD, Chester Donnally, MD, and Heidi Lee, MD, has extensive experience helping patients overcome the pain and discomfort that comes with cervical disc degeneration and we can do the same for you. Here’s how.
Why cervical discs degenerate
As we mentioned, degeneration of your cervical discs falls under another name — degenerative disc disease. Contrary to its name, this condition isn’t really a disease, but a natural breakdown of your discs due to age and wear-and-tear.
Under normal circumstances, each of your discs feature a soft, jelly-like interior that's surrounded by a tough layer of cartilage. These discs separate your vertebrae and provide cushioning, support, and range of motion along your spine.
As you age, your discs can lose moisture, causing them to become more brittle and flat. This process can be accelerated in areas where these discs work the hardest, such as in your neck and lower back. As a result, your vertebrae can rub together or your discs can herniate, leaving you with pain and inflammation. When it comes to your neck, pain and stiffness are the two primary complaints of cervical disc degeneration.
Your treatment options for cervical disc degeneration
Since the problem we’re discussing is degenerative, there’s no turning the clock back on the damage that your discs have already incurred. That said, there are steps that we can take to promote better health and movement in your neck.
In most cases, we prefer to start out conservatively with physical therapy (PT), which can do wonders for beefing up the supporting tissues in your neck to take the pressure off of your discs. PT can also help you regain or preserve the range of motion in your neck.
At the same time as you undergo PT, we recommend anti-inflammatory medications to relieve the pain and stiffness, as well as hot and cold therapies, which accomplish the same.
If your neck doesn't respond to these conservative therapies, we can get a little more aggressive with corticosteroid injections.
Should these interventional injections prove ineffective, we can try one of two minimally invasive surgical solutions:
- XLIF® lateral lumbar interbody fusion (fusing two vertebrae together)
- Mobi-C® artificial cervical discs to replace diseased discs
As you can see, you’re not without solutions when it comes to cervical disc degeneration and the earlier we can treat the problem, the less aggressive your treatments will likely be.
If you’re plagued by neck pain and stiffness and you want relief, please contact one of our offices in Addison or Plano, Texas, to set up an appointment.