Cervical Disc Degeneration Symptoms And Diagnosis

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Consider all the stress you put on your neck, are you still surprised why you experience unusual neck pain at least once? 

Almost two-thirds of Americans complain about this common pain issue. It is when muscles become weary and worn out because of several reasons like poor posture, rough movements, and injuries. They mostly called it chronic pain, and it can be a sign of more severe health conditions like cervical disc generation. You can mistakenly say it's a simple neck pain until it becomes unbearable. 

Cervical disc degeneration is more than just pain in your neck. It's a degenerative process in which the discs on your cervical spine started to deteriorate because of the pain you experience in your neck, arms, and upper body part.

Identifying Cervical Disc Degeneration

Cervical Disc Degeneration

The one that forms your neck is the cervical spine which is part of your spinal column. The discs make your neck stable and let you turn or move smoothly without any problems. It serves as shock absorbers whenever you do a movement or activity.

The cervical disc is consists of a solid outer wall and a gel-like inner core. The moment you were born, the discs primarily consist of water. As you age, the discs started to loosen up the water content and become thin, providing the body less shock absorption. The process makes the cervical discs develop tears and cracks. These changes can cause the discs to protrude and bulge out when it presses against the closest nerves. It makes a person feel various sensations, including numbness, muscle weakness, tingling, limited mobility, and radiating pain from the patient's neck down to the shoulders, arms, hands, and fingers.

Pain associated with this condition generally comes from two main factors:

  1. Abnormal micro-motion instability. The support a cervical disc provides lessens as the disc degenerates the outer layer, causing unnatural, small motions between the vertebrae. These movements can lead to irritation and tension in the surrounding muscles, nerve roots, and joints as the spinal segments become progressively more unstable, giving intermittent scenes of more intense pain.
  2. Inflammation. The inflammatory proteins you can get from the disc interior space can possibly leak when the disc degenerates. It can cause swelling in the spinal structures and surrounding areas. The inflammation can lead to muscle spasms, a common weakness in the back or neck, and muscle tension. If one nerve root gets inflamed, numbness and pain may radiate into the shoulder and arm (refer to as cervical radiculopathy in cases of cervical disc degeneration) or into the leg or hip (refer to as lumbar radiculopathy in cases of lumbar disc degeneration).

The Signs And Symptoms That You Are Having Cervical Disc Degeneration

Cervical Disc Degeneration

The symptoms of cervical disc degeneration may vary from person to person, depending on how severe the condition is. At first, it is often described as neck pain until it becomes unbearable for the patient. The pain develops slowly, and then the symptoms will appear in no time, ranging from simple neck pain to the inability to move the head. Below are the other signs and symptoms of this condition.

  • Headaches
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Neck pain
  • Limited movement
  • Worsening pain with movement

The worst case that can happen is when the nerves are affected, and a person may experience not only pain but numbness, tingling, and weakness in the neck, arms, shoulders, hands, and fingers. These symptoms may just be present at one side of the patient's body. In a more severe condition, the nerves on the neck part start to affect other nerves in the lower part of the body. It leads to muscle weakness in the legs, difficulty walking, loss of coordination, bladder and bowel problems. If you feel any of these symptoms, it's essential to see your doctor right away.

Diagnosis Involving Cervical Disc Degeneration

Cervical Disc Degeneration

A diagnosis is mainly attained after a thorough assessment of your medical and health history, physical examination, and discussion of related symptoms. 

During the test or examination, the patient will be asked to do several tasks and describe how it affects the existing symptoms. Another critical exam to perform is the neurological exam to test the patient's reflexes, strength, and sensations in the most affected parts. Imaging tests like X-rays, CAT scans, and MRI are also needed to classify the disc degeneration and how the surrounding soft tissues and nerves become affected as well when the condition reaches its severity. Once the patient is being diagnosed, the health care provider will work out a customized treatment program suited to your lifestyle and needs.

Treatment Option For Cervical Disc Degeneration

Cervical Disc Degeneration

The treatment will depend on the intensity of the symptoms, doctors' recommendations, or other underlying diseases that affect the nerves. That's why diagnosis is made first to make a suitable treatment option for the patient. 

Chiropractors are a big help in this kind of condition. They are specialized in manipulating the joints within the person's body to make sure they can properly function, including the neck, which is part of your nervous system. It will not only locate the source of the painful areas but also resolve the cause of pain by providing effective treatment plans and lifestyle adjustments. It will ensure the patient's recovery and optimal life restoration. 

Cold and warm compresses, over-the-counter medications, and proper rest can help battle the mild symptoms of cervical disc degeneration. Other moderate cases may need physical therapy, bracing, and joint manipulation.

The goal of chiropractic treatment is to develop joint mechanics within the spinal column that's been affected. It is also to alleviate the pressure and inflammation put on the nerves and other surrounding tissues so that your neck will become functional again and restore mobility. Chiropractic care may use a combination of heat and ice therapy, therapeutic massage, instrument-assisted, and manual manipulation to treat the source of pain and alleviate symptoms.

If you believe that you are experiencing neck pain and other symptoms leading to a more severe condition like cervical disc degeneration, you must seek professional treatment right away. Regardless of the source of the pain, you need to know the diagnosis and the treatment plan you need. 

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