The cervical spine is made up of seven vertebrae that are separated by intervertebral discs whose primary function is to distribute weight and allow movement. For this reason discs play a role throughout the damper column.
With aging and over the years these discs have a tendency to “wear out” and through a degenerative process decrease in height becoming narrower thus contributing to the mobility of the cervical spine and the compression of the foramina (holes where the roots come out of the column). However, the literature shows that about 25% of people under 40 and about 60% of people over 40 have varying degrees of degenerative spine changes without having a typical symptomatology.
When these discs with degenerative changes tear, we find situations of cervical disc herniation with more or less acute symptoms, although in some cases the clinic is very diffuse degenerative disease.
Although this degenerative disc disease is often associated with age, it is certain that lifestyle can also play a relevant role in the development and progression of these changes, often conditioned by a favorable genetic substrate.
This is why regular and proper exercise, the correction of vicious working postures as well as the balanced diet and smoking cessation are so relevant.
Degenerative Cervical Disease Symptoms
The most common symptoms of this type of pathology are neck pain, stiff neck movements, often associated with tingling, and decreased tenderness and muscle strength in the root territory (shoulder, arm, forearm, and hand).
How to diagnose cervical degenerative disease?
In the presence of a compatible clinical picture, x-ray, magnetic resonance imaging and cervical CT should be ordered.
What is the treatment of this type of cervical degenerative pathology?
Even if you have a cervical disc herniation or degenerative cervical disc disease, the likelihood is that the symptoms will improve with conservative treatment. The first line of treatment is pain medication. If the pain is root-compressed by the root, it may be necessary to use cortisone because anti-inflammatory drugs do not act on the chemical mediator of neurological pain (only cortisone only). In some cases it is worth associating physical therapy to improve the clinical condition and posture.
What kind of surgery to treat cervical degenerative pathology?
The most common type of surgery to resolve pain caused by cervical degenerative disease is anterior cervical spine arthrodesis associated with discectomy and foraminectomy – see techniques for anterior and posterior cervical spine arthrodesis + cervical arthroplasty.