Degenerative disc disease — neck

Degenerative disc disease is a vast term used to describe any damage to a disc in the spine due to the natural aging process and degeneration of the spine.

Degenerative disc disease in the neck can be caused by an injury to the upper spine or, more often than not, the result of years of normal wear and tear. Through the natural aging process, the discs in the cervical spine (neck) begin to weaken due to years of wear and tear and increased compression. The discs eventually deteriorate, making them weaker and thinner. Over time, this can lead to a herniated disc, bulging disc, thinning disc or other disc abnormalities, which are the most common sources of neck pain and stiffness.

If you are experiencing chronic pain and stiffness in your neck, you should consult a physician to find pain relief. Your physician can diagnose the cause of your discomfort and help you find a treatment option that fits your needs and your lifestyle. Fortunately, many degenerative disc diseases begin slowly, so you can identify the condition before the disc damage becomes severe.

Symptoms of a degenerative disc in the neck

A degenerative disc does not always result in pain and symptoms. As with other disc problems, symptoms arise when an abnormal neck or back disc interferes with regular nerve function. When a nerve in the neck becomes pinched or otherwise irritated, a number of symptoms are possible, including:

  • Neck pain (cervicalgia) or stiffness
  • Muscle weakness in the shoulders or elbows
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms, hands or fingers
  • Radiating or “traveling” pain (radiculopathy) along the nerves

These symptoms often start mildly and increase in strength over time. If you begin to feel these symptoms and they last longer than a week, you should consult a doctor to proactively treat your condition before your symptoms worsen. Many mild degenerative disc cases can be treated through conservative, nonsurgical methods of treatment. However, as the condition worsens, you may be more likely to be recommended for spinal surgery.

Spine surgery for a degenerative disc in the neck

While spine surgery is often a difficult treatment to consider, patients have the opportunity to choose a safer, more effective treatment alternative to traditional open neck surgery. The minimally invasive procedures at Laser Spine Institute boast a 97 percent patient satisfaction score^ and a 98 percent patient recommendation rate.

The reason for this high patient satisfaction is that at Laser Spine Institute, we are committed to providing the best care for our patients in an atmosphere of comfort and compassion. Our minimally invasive surgery uses the latest in medical advancements, and has helped more than 60,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain.

Patients with cervical degenerative disc disease and lumbar degenerative disc disease can find relief through our minimally invasive discectomy and stabilization procedure. During the surgery, the surgeon will make a small incision in the neck, carefully avoiding the surrounding muscles and ligaments. Once the spine is reached, the surgeon will replace the damaged disc with an artificial disc to support the spine and relieve pressure on the nerve root. Our minimally invasive discectomy without stabilization simply removes a small piece of the damaged disc to relieve nerve pressure without weakening the spine.

For more information about the minimally invasive treatment options available for degenerative disc diseases, please contact Laser Spine Institute. Our spine care experts can review your MRI or CT scan and help you take the next step on your journey to wellness.