Degenerative disc disease in the cervical (upper) regions of the spine can result in neck pain and other symptoms like tingling, numbness and weakness in the shoulders, arms and hands. This pain can have a large impact on your quality of life, affecting your relationships, job and your ability to enjoy your favorite activities.
However, there are many treatments that can help you find relief and get back to the life you’ve been missing. In addition to working closely with your doctor to develop a personalized treatment plan, it can also be helpful to educate yourself as a patient. The following information can help you learn more about the range of options to treat neck pain related to degenerative disc disease.
Basic treatment for disc-related neck pain
In most cases, when a patient is diagnosed with degenerative disc disease in the neck, treatment will usually include some combination of conservative techniques. Over the course of several weeks or months, these treatments are designed to relieve pain, improve spinal flexibility and increase spinal stability by strengthening the muscles that support the neck and head. It is important to note, however, that finding the right combination of treatments usually involves some trial and error, so you should have realistic expectations about the process. If a particular technique proves to be ineffective, this isn’t necessarily bad news, as it can provide your doctor with additional insight into your condition, allowing for an adjustment to the treatment plan.
Here are a few examples of common conservative treatments:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Low-impact exercise
- Stretching methods
- Heat or ice applications, like a heating pad or ice pack
Additionally, many patients benefit from complementary or alternative approaches like massage, yoga and acupuncture. If you do pursue any form of alternative medicine, keep your primary care doctor informed to make sure it is compatible with your existing treatment plan.
If you do consider surgery
Surgery to address degenerative disc disease in the neck is usually considered a treatment of last resort when fully pursuing conservative methods has proven to be ineffective. However, even if you do become a candidate for surgery, it’s important to understand that there are many different surgical approaches to treat degenerative disc disease in the neck.
At USA Spine Care our board-certified surgeons+ perform minimally invasive spine surgery that is performed in our state-of-the-art outpatient centers across the United States. These procedures use a muscle-sparing approach that involves a less than 1-inch incision, leading to less risk of complication compared to traditional open spine procedures.
To learn more and find out if you are a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures, contact us today for a no-cost MRI review.*