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Degenerative Disc Disease

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Degenerative Disc Disease is a common cause of neck pain and may be referred to by some people as a stiff neck, etc. The cervical spine supports the neck and head, it wears out over a period of years as the cushions (or discs) between the bones become worn and the bones (or vertebrae) become irregular. Over time, these discs begin to degenerate and the bones form spurs that may limit the space between the vertebrae and the nerve roots may become pinched. As degenerative disc disease progresses the neck becomes less flexible, and patients may experience pain and stiffness (most common during the latter part of the day).

Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease may include:

  • Pain and stiffness in the neck
  • Possible numbness and tingling in the neck, arms or shoulders
  • Possible weakness in the neck, arms or shoulders


Normally, Degenerative Disc Disease can be treated without surgery by using over-the-counter medications and possible physical therapy or a combination of both. If over-the-counter medications aren't working, a prescription strength painkiller may be necessary. Because of the comprehensive pain management and physical therapy programs offered at SCCNS, we can ensure you receive the best treatment possible.

If the pain does not get better over a period of time (at least six months) or significant weakness, numbness occurs. Pain affecting a patient's everyday activities despite conservative treatment may be a candidate for elective spine surgery. The normal surgery performed for Degenerative Disc Disease is an Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF) which the deteriorating disc is removed then placement of an artificial joint or fusion devise. More severe cases may result in the need for a total disc replacement.

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