What Is Degenerative Disc Disease In The Neck?
The term degenerative disc disease is used to explain the degeneration of one or multiple inter-vertebral discs in the spinal region. It is sometimes also called as degenerative disc disorder.
On the similar note, the degenerative disc disease in the neck or cervical degenerative disc disease is a highly painful condition which can hinder the individual’s daily life routine heavily.
Generally this disease is a geriatric problem which occurs in the late stages of life. In the present years it sometimes occurs even in the young adult age without any known reasons.
It is important to note that if the disease is left untreated for long in its initial period then it may turn out to be complicated and chronic, which becomes highly impossible to treat or cure completely.
Diagnosis & Differential Diagnosis
Through the standard investigative procedures like X-ray, MRI, tissue biopsy & CSF analysis the cause as well as the severity of the degenerative disc disease in the neck can be identified very easily.
In case of cervical disc disease there will be presence of chondrocyte clusters, degenerative fibro cartilage, herniation of the inter-vertebral disc, splits in the annulus fibrosis, shrinkage of nucleus pulposus, etc.
Most of the time the degenerative disc disease in neck and headaches gets misunderstood with certain other diseases and thus the degenerative disc disease neck treatment plan is also wrongly implemented by the physicians.
Some of the common diseases which resembles more or less same like the degenerative disc disease through its signs and symptoms are ankylosing spondylosis, cervical spondylosis, lumbar spondylosis, simple inter-vertebral disc bulge and prolapse, osteoarthritis of the cervical spine, etc.
Hence through a proper case history, examination and appropriate investigation the symptoms of degenerative disc disease should be identified first and then the treatment plan should be ruled out.
Degenerative Disc Disease explained (Video)
What Causes Degenerative Disc Disease In Neck?
Degenerative disc disease is usually a result of natural aging process. In case of geriatric origin the occurrence of the severe degenerative disc disease in neck is mainly because of the over usage of the spinal vertebrae as well as maintenance of wrong posture for several years.
During over usage and long standing wrong posture maintenance the inter-vertebral disc cells start eroding gradually. This happens because of heavy stress applied on it.
These finally lead to partial (or even sometimes complete) degeneration of the inter-vertebral disc leading to contact or fusion of the inter-vertebral bones. This further results into heavy shooting as well as radiating pain because of the spinal nerve compression.
As per sources during the birth, intervertebral discs are composed of 80% water in addition to collagen and proteins. This is the fluid which controls the sponginess of the disc to help absorb the shock experienced during day to day movements like while running, exercising, playing, etc.
With time and with age the amount of fluid present in the disc decreases. This results into the discs becoming stiff and rigid which increases the possibility of wearing and tearing. This process sometimes also causes flattening of the discs which reduces the space between the vertebrae over time.
Apart from the geriatric origin the other major reasons which causes the degenerative disc disease in neck are road traffic accidents, fall injury over the spinal region, hit injury on the spinal region, diabetes, diseases leading to infection and inflammation of the spinal cord and inter-vertebral disc like meningitis, etc.
As soon as you see that the unbearable pain interferes with your daily activities greatly, its time for you to see a doctor. The intense DDD pain in neck region may radiate to the back of the head, shoulders, upper back and arms (especially if left untreated or ignored).
These acute and chronic pain episodes may last from few weeks or few months. Getting a proper treatment at the right time is the best solution which can make your life healthy once again.
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