Regis W. Haid, Jr., MD, Spine Surgeon
Cervical disc degeneration is a common cause of neck pain, which is frequently felt as a stiff neck. Lumbar degenerative disc disease is much more common than disc degeneration in the cervical spine because the neck generally is subjected to far less torque and force. However, a traumatic or a twisting injury to the disc space can lead to degeneration, and the wear and tear on the disc over time can also lead to disc degeneration and associated problems.
Many patients with cervical disc degeneration have numbness, tingling, or even weakness in the neck, arms, or shoulders as a result of nerves in the cervical area becoming irritated or pinched.
The symptoms are specific to the affected discs in the neck. By way of example, a pinched nerve root in the C6-C7 segment may result in weakness in the triceps and forearms, wrist drop and unusual sensations in the middle fingers or fingertips.
Cervical disc degeneration may also contribute to the development of cervical spinal stenosis and other progressive conditions, or to sudden cervical disc herniation.
As with most spinal degenerative diseases, the first line of treatment typically involves medications and/or physical therapy. Surgical treatment for cervical disc degeneration may involve fusion or artificial disc placement.