Treating cervical discogenic pain

Cervical discogenic pain refers to symptoms that result from the degeneration of one or more of the spinal discs in the cervical (upper) spine. In a healthy spine, these soft, spongy discs cushion the vertebrae and prevent the individual vertebrae from grinding together. However, over time, these discs also become prone to deterioration and can bulge or even rupture.

Discogenic pain occurs when any part of a spinal disc puts pressure on the spinal cord or an exiting nerve root. This pain and other symptoms can be debilitating, affecting your ability to work, enjoy family time or even perform tasks like grocery shopping or working in the yard. Getting information about the causes of and treatment options for discogenic pain can help you make a treatment decision to get you back to the people and activities you’ve been missing.

Disc anatomy

Spinal discs consist of a tough, fibrous outer layer surrounding a soft core made of water and protein. With age these discs can’t hold water as well, making it more difficult to maintain their shape and withstand the pressure being put on them by the surrounding vertebrae. This deterioration can cause the discs to bulge or protrude from their normal radius in the spinal column. It is also possible for a tear to develop in the outer layer, causing the inner fluid to be pushed out into the spine.

These conditions aren’t always symptomatic by themselves and many patients can have them for years without knowing it. However, should the disc material come into contact with a nerve in the disc wall or in the top of the spinal column, cervical discogenic pain can result. When regular nerve function is interrupted, a number of symptoms in addition to localized pain can occur, including:

  • Muscle weakness and fatigue
  • Pain that radiates from the neck along a nerve
  • Tingling or numbness in the extremities
  • Diminished reflexes
  • Neck stiffness
  • Disruption of fine motor skills in the hands

Treatment of cervical discogenic pain

Neck pain may be frustrating, but the good news is that it is often treatable. In many cases, physician-recommended treatments like rest, pain medication, heat or ice therapy and stretching are effective in relieving symptoms. But if your cervical discogenic pain persists after several weeks or months of treatment, your physician may suggest surgery as an option.

If you are concerned about the risks of a traditional open spine procedure, reach out to Laser Spine Institute to learn about our minimally invasive outpatient procedures. Our highly skilled team of surgeons can access the spine using a small incision, offering our patients a shorter recovery time^ with less risk of complication.

Contact us today for a no-cost MRI review* to see if you are a potential candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery.