Though there are many causes for neck pain, most are short-term, easing up after a few days. Chronic issues last for months and may interfere with daily activities and the overall quality of your life. It’s difficult to manage chronic pain with the medications that serve you well for temporary problems.
As you get older, there’s a greater chance that ongoing, chronic neck pain stems from changes to the intervertebral discs, the shock absorbers of the spine, as they lose moisture and flexibility. This is the start of degenerative disc disease, a frequent cause of neck and back pain.
Neck pain expert Dr. James Nassiri of Westside Pain Specialists can help you manage symptoms regardless of the cause. Understanding the course of degenerative disc disease may help you to cope with its progression.
The degenerative process
Despite its name, degenerative disc disease isn’t technically a disease, but simply an effect of getting older. Virtually everyone would develop this condition if they live long enough.
Simply having disc degeneration doesn’t mean you’ll develop pain from it. Many people discover they have degenerating discs only when they receive medical imaging for another condition.
Spinal discs are one of the largest structures in the adult body that have no blood supply. Instead, they receive nutrients through a diffusion process from vertebral endplates, a layer of bone and cartilage that separates discs from vertebrae. This limits the healing ability of a spinal disc.
The disc itself loses water content over the course of your life. Children typically have about 85% water in their discs, an amount that falls off to 70% by the age of 70. This rate of loss varies between people.
Origins of neck pain
Associated chronic neck pain comes from the six discs in the cervical spine region. Most problems stem from the disc between the C5 and C6 vertebrae. This disc bears much of the weight of the head, and it’s prone to injury and posture problems. It’s a common spot for cervical disc herniation.
Though spinal discs don’t have a direct blood supply, they do have nerve tissue. The pain you have in your neck could originate from the disc itself. Pain may also result from the nerves branching from the spinal cord.
Symptoms may develop at the point of nerve compression or irritation, or anywhere along the nerve’s path. When a disc in the neck region causes a problem, you may feel this radiated pain in your arm, wrist, or hand.
Treatment of neck pain
The ideal treatment of your neck pain condition due to degenerative disc disease largely depends on the specific causes. Generally, most neck pain resolves itself, and surgery is usually recommended only when conservative efforts fail to provide sufficient relief.
When your neck pain makes living difficult, contact us at our Beverly Hills or Rancho Cucamonga offices to schedule a consultation with Dr. Nassiri. Westside Pain Specialists is here to help, so book your appointment now.