Degeneration refers to the loss of normal tissues, structure and function as a result of the ageing process. Degenerative disease can involve the spongy intervertebral disc, the bony vertebral body, and/or the facet joint. There are many types of degenerative diseases including herniated disc, radiculopathy, cervical spondylitis myelopathy, osteoarthritis, and spinal stenosis.
A Herniated disc is when the nucleus of the intervertebral disc pushes out from the centre of the disc. It may place pressure on the spinal cord or the nerve root causing symptoms, including:
- Neck Pain
- Arm Pain
- Weakness or Numbness
What is Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy ?
Cervical spondylotic myelopathy results from spinal cord compression due to the narrowing of the spinal canal. It may cause either by congenitial conditions or by degenerative changes over time. These degenerative changes, also known as “spondylosis” result in the growth of bone spurs, which may compress the spinal cord and show symptoms such as:
- Loss of fine motors control of hands.
- Motor weakness in the upper extremities.
- Gait/walking difficulties.
- Pain in the neck and/or shoulder area.
What is Cervical Radiculopathy ?
Radiculopathy is when a spinal nerve root is irritated and or compressed by a herniated disc, osteophyte (bone spur), or both. Symptoms may include one or all of the following:
- Pain in the neck or arms.
- Tingling, numbness, or other sensory changes in the arms and hands.
- Muscle weakness in the arms
Osteoarthritis and Spinal Stenosis
Osteoarthritis describes bone and cartilage changes from joint wear and tear. Spinal stenosis means the narrowing of the spinal cord or nerve root opening in the spine often caused by the other degenerative diseases described here.
Treating Cervical Spine Disorder
Your doctor will discuss with you your diagnosis and treatment option. For most people who do not have evidence of nerve root compression with muscle weakness, the first course of treatment may include non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). After completing your conservative treatment adequately over the period of time, your specialist will discuss surgical option with you and the benefits and the risk of the neck surgery. Surgical treatment of cervical spine disorder is often considered when cervical radiculopathy, myelopathy or both are present.