Overview of degenerative disc disease in the neck

Degenerative disc disease (DDD) in the neck occurs as a result of age-related breakdown of spinal discs in the cervical (upper) spine. This region of the spine has to be both strong enough to support the head and flexible enough to allow for basic movement. This puts an enormous amount of pressure on the rubbery spinal discs that absorb shock and cushion the vertebrae.

Years of this pressure combined with loss of water and protein content in the discs are factors that lead to degenerative disc disease in the neck. While this isn’t necessarily painful, if symptoms do develop they can severely interfere with your everyday life, making it hard to sit at your desk, drive or get a good night’s sleep. If this is a condition affecting you and the people around you, learning more about the full range of treatment options can help you and your doctor work together to get the help you deserve.

Degenerative disc disease — symptoms and treatment

Degenerative disc disease can cause a range of spine conditions — such as bulging, herniated and collapsed discs — that can cause nerve compression. In addition to local neck pain, nerve compression in the cervical spine can cause radiating symptoms in the shoulders, arms, hands and fingers. Specific symptoms include:

  • Shooting and burning pain along the length of the nerve
  • Tingling and numbness
  • Muscle weakness and impaired motor skills

Upon diagnosis of degenerative disc disease in the neck, patients can find methods to manage the pain and take steps to improve basic functioning. Hot and cold compression, medication, physical therapy and exercise are all methods commonly recommended by doctors to treat this condition.

When to consider surgery

Many patients with DDD are able to find the relief they need from conservative options without having to resort to surgery. However, if the degeneration is more severe and symptoms do not improve after exhausting conservative options, surgery may be recommended.

Before consenting to a highly invasive traditional open spine procedure, contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn about the benefits of our minimally invasive spine surgery. By using a less than 1-inch incision to access the spine we are able to offer patients an outpatient procedure, helping them avoid the overnight hospitalization and lengthy recovery that comes with traditional open neck or back surgery.

Reach out to our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants for a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures.