Did you know that nearly two-thirds of Americans will experience some form of severe neck pain at least once in their lifetime? This common injury type often stems from poor posture, rough movements, or injury. However, chronic neck pain might signify a more serious underlying condition, like cervical disc degeneration, that can be mistaken for neck pain until it gets much more severe.
The Role of the Cervical Spine
Cervical disc degeneration is much more than just a stiff neck. With this disease, the discs within the cervical spine will deteriorate over time, causing extensive pain in the neck, upper body, and arms. The cervical spine is the part of the spinal column that forms the neck, stabilizing it and allowing you to turn and move smoothly. It also acts as a shock absorber during activity.
Each disc within the cervical spine has a sturdy outer wall with a gel-like inner core. Although, when we are born, these discs will primarily be composed of water. The discs will begin to lose this water content throughout the aging process, resulting in a thinner shell that provides less shock absorption. This process will also lead the disc to protrude and impact nearby nerves. The result of this process is a disease known as cervical disc degeneration.
Signs and Symptoms of Cervical Disc Degeneration
As previously mentioned, cervical disc degeneration may present as standard neck pain early on. Depending on the stage to which the disease has progressed, symptoms may vary – often making it hard to diagnose initially based on signs and symptoms alone. Pain might progress slowly or develop suddenly with symptoms that include a mild neck ache or the inability to move the head without severe pain.
Common signs and symptoms of cervical disc degeneration may include:
- Numbness or Tingling
- Limited Mobility
- Muscle Weakness
- Radiating Pain
- Worsening Pain with Movement
- Shoulder, Arm, Hand, or Finger Pain
If nerves are affected, symptoms may be more diverse. In some severe cases, affected nerves in the neck may continue to impact the nerves in the lower body. When this occurs, leg weakness, coordination loss, difficulty walking, and loss of bladder control may occur. When these symptoms are present, the patient should contact their doctor immediately for guidance and medical treatment.
Diagnosis of Cervical Disc Degeneration
A diagnosis of cervical disc degeneration can typically be achieved by reviewing medical history, completing a physical examination, and discussing symptoms. During the examination, your chiropractor may require the patient to complete tasks to see how symptoms may be affecting their actions. In some cases, a neurological exam may also be needed to test sensations, reflexes, and strength levels in affected areas.
Care providers will also perform several imaging tests to achieve an accurate diagnosis, including X-Rays, MRIs, and CAT scans. These tests can help determine the progression of cervical disc degeneration and pinpoint what nerves and soft tissues are being affected. Once a diagnosis is achieved, and the severity of the condition is known, the chiropractors at Hunt Spinal Care can create a customized treatment plan tailored to the patient’s needs and lifestyle.
Treatment of Cervical Disc Degeneration
The treatment of cervical disc generation will typically depend on the present symptoms and what is found during an examination. The primary goal of any treatment should be to ensure that the nervous system can function properly – often by alleviating irritation, inflammation, and pressure that pressure placed on nerves or soft tissue. Not only will we determine the root cause of the pain, but we can also provide effective treatment options and recommend lifestyle adjustments to improve your quality of life.
Why Choose Hunt Spinal Care?
If you are experiencing neck pain and suspect cervical disc degeneration, seek professional treatment. Regardless of the source of your pain, we will work with you to determine the right treatment plan for your needs. For more information on cervical disc degeneration or to schedule an appointment, contact Hunt Spinal Care today.