Degenerative Cervical Spine Disorders: Causes and Best Treatments

Degenerative Disk Disease SurgeryDegenerative Cervical Spine Disorders will affect up to two-thirds of the population in their lifetime.

If this term has come up in conversations with your doctor, you aren’t alone. That doesn’t make it any less serious.

If you have been diagnosed with Degenerative Cervical Spine Disorder, or consider yourself at risk for it, then you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll be covering the causes and treatments for it.

Let’s get into it!

What is a Degenerative Cervical Spine Disorder?

Most people will experience some form of neck pain in their lives. For some people, this pain is an isolated incident or directly related to a neck injury sustained.

However, in the case of individuals with Degenerative Cervical Spine Disorder, their neck pain is ongoing and caused by a disorder of the spine. The difference lies in the frequency and intensity of the pain the person feels.

Additionally, the neck pain associated with this disorder is felt mostly when the patient is upright, or attempting to move their head. Other symptoms associated with Degenerative Cervical Spine Disorder are numbness, tingling, and other strange sensations in the neck area. Headaches can also be a symptom.

Complications of Degenerative Cervical Spine Disorder include bone spurs. These can occur when the discs in your cervical spine have begun to deteriorate, and a growth on your spine occurs to relieve the stress on your spine.

Degenerative Cervical Spine Disorder is a complex issue. Now that we’ve considered what this disorder is, let’s take a look at its causes.

What Causes a Degenerative Cervical Spine Disorder?

As the term degenerative suggests, a Degenerative Cervical Spine Disorder is caused by the breakdown of one or multiple cushioning discs in the cervical spine. This breakdown is often attributed to the “wear and tear” associated with aging.

Degenerative Cervical Spine Disorder has been known to affect people as they age. Studies done by the US National Library of Medicine on degenerative spinal discs show the average age of participants to be 53.7. It’s true that people diagnosed with this disorder are often over the age of 40.

However, that doesn’t mean young people aren’t susceptible – individuals as young as 18 have been diagnosed with this disorder, too. In reality, there are a few key causes of Degenerative Cervical Spine Disorder, some of which aren’t age-specific:

  • • Genetics – some individuals’ genes cause the discs in their cervical spine to degenerate faster than normal, causing this disorder.
  • • Age – the older you get, the more wear and tear your cervical spine discs have to endure. Additionally, as you age, your spinal discs dry out. This means that there is less fluid present to absorb the shock of movement, so it becomes painful.
  • • Sports – rigorous sports and other strenuous activity can cause the outer core of the disc to deteriorate, causing degenerative cervical spine disorder as well.

One of the main reasons why Degenerative Cervical Spine Disorder is such a debilitating condition is because of how permanent it is. Unlike other parts of the body, there is very little blood flow to the discs; therefore, discs can do very little to fix or regenerate themselves.

Even though this is true, rest assured that they are ways to treat this condition. Here are a few ways to do so.

How can Degenerative Cervical Spine Disorder be treated?

There is no “one size fits all” solution to Degenerative Cervical Spine Disorder. But, there are a few things you can do at the advice of your doctor that can alleviate the symptoms.

One way that this can be done is by doing exercises to strengthen the muscles in the affected area, which will help to lower the pain you’ll feel when doing daily physical activities. Also, improving your diet and eating more healthy and nutritious food can help to alleviate the effects of this musculoskeletal disorder.

Additionally, once you consult with your doctor, there are a few things that he or she may prescribe based on how far along your Degenerative Cervical Spine Disorder is.

These include:

  • • Physical therapy – at times, physical therapy under the guidance of a trained specialist may be enough to improve the symptoms associated with this disorder.
  • • Hot and cold therapy – depending on the situation, your doctor may also prescribe therapy involving the use of alternating hot and cold compresses to improve discomfort.
  • • Medication – if the pain is the biggest problem in your situation, your doctor may prescribe different medications to help alleviate pain and/or swelling. These medications range from acetaminophen for pain relief to ibuprofen for swelling of the area.
  • • Surgery – surgery is also a viable option in some cases. The two kinds of surgery that can be done to treat Degenerative Cervical Spine Disorder are spinal fusion and an artificial disk replacement.

There are a variety of other ways that Degenerative Cervical Spine Disorder can be treated, such as wearing a neck brace. A brace will prevent your neck from assuming painful positions.

Additionally, most doctors agree that strengthening the muscles around the affected area can do a world of good in combating this painful musculoskeletal disorder.

I think I have Degenerative Cervical Spine Disorder

Do you think you are currently suffering from Degenerative Cervical Spine Disorder? If so, a visit to a doctor is in order. You’ll be able to identify if you indeed have this condition, and the steps that you can take to start alleviating the discomfort associated with it.

If surgery is the route prescribed by your doctor and you’re in the Whiting, Cedar Knolls or Hackettstown, New Jersey area, then Executive Spine Surgery run by Dr. Carl Spivak might be the solution you need. We even offer free MRI reviews and Benefits screening upon request!

Visit our Contact Us page for more information, including our locations and telephone numbers.

Degenerative Cervical Spine Disorder is a condition that doesn’t get better without treatment, so the longer you wait, the more detrimental it could be to your chances of recovery. Get in contact with us today. We’re here for you.

Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion: Are You a Good Candidate?

Lower back pain – the kind that you might get from lifting something wrong or sleeping in a weird position – is all too familiar.

Sometimes it shows up as just a lingering dull ache. Other times, it’s a sharp stabbing sensation that shows up only when you bend or twist a certain way.

If you’re lucky, it’s only temporary. If you’re like almost 80% of Americans, it can turn into a chronic condition.

Chronic lower back pain has more than doubled in the U.S. since 1992, regardless of gender or ethnicity.

There are the usual culprits of lower back pain – an old mattress, sitting in a chair all day long, doing heavy lifting or strenuous physical labor – but there are a few things you might not realize are causing your lower back pain.

Your genetics can influence how much pain you feel. They play a part in determining how fast your bones deteriorate over time or if you have more nerves than average.

Whatever the case may be, you’re not alone in experiencing this all-too-common condition. But there is a solution – Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion.

What’s Going On With Lower Back Pain?

Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion is a mouthful for sure, but it’s an effective way to end your lower back pain for good.

Let’s talk about the spine itself for a moment before we get into what TLIF can do for you.

The spine is made out of individual bones called vertebrae. They form a canal through the center that allows your spinal column to travel from your brain to the base of your spine, completely protected by the hard bones.

The spinal column supplies nerves to your entire body. Two nerves branch off from the main bundle at each vertebrae and go where they’re needed. The holes where they exit are called the foramen.

Between each of the vertebrae is a disc – a jelly-like shock absorber for the body bones.

This interbody space can be damaged, causing bones to grind against each other, nerves to pull, or discs to slip out of alignment. As you can imagine, that really hurts!

Here’s where TLIF comes in. By fusing the vertebrae of the lumbar area, it reduces pain by stabilizing the spine and aiding the shock-absorbing discs.

The main goals of this minimally invasive surgery are to improve spinal stability, correct any kind of spinal deformities, and, ultimately, reduce pain.

No doubt you’re wondering if it’s painful or if there’s a long recovery process. Keep reading to find out what exactly is involved with this procedure.

How Does TLIF Work?

Spinal surgery can be scary. The good news is that TLIF is minimally invasive and you’ll even be up and walking the day after surgery.

So what happens during this procedure?

You’ll be under general anesthesia which means you’ll be asleep during the entire process.

The surgeon will first make a small incision above the vertebrae to be fused.

The surgeon then moves the muscles and skin apart from the operation site and removes the damaged disc.

The surgeon clears out most of the disc from between the vertebrae and prepares to insert the object the bone will graft to in order to stabilize the bones. This object can be a bio-compatible polymer implant or even a piece of the patient’s pelvic bone.

Once fused, the nerves are no longer impeded as they exit through the foramen, greatly reducing chronic back pain.

The procedure is fairly simple, but who qualifies to receive it? Are you a good candidate for TLIF?

Who Is A Candidate For This Procedure?

Of course, those who have back pain from just sleeping in a weird position or from a long day of moving house aren’t going to qualify. There are certain chronic indicators and diseases that a TLIF patient has.

Beyond back pain, there’s weakness or pain in the legs, meaning the nerves in the lumbar region are being affected.

Those who haven’t responded well to therapy or medicine also qualify.

There are also many degenerative spinal diseases that can be alleviated by having a Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion procedure.

One of the most common ones is Degenerative Disc Disease, where the vertebral disc is damaged and wears away.

A disc that wears down can bulge against the nerves exiting the foramen, pressing them against the hard bone and causing pain.

Sometimes, arthritic overgrowth takes over the bone. The extra bone pinches the nerve, resulting in a condition called Lateral Stenosis.

Your back pain could be a result of a condition called Spondylolisthesis, where the disc is weak and allows the vertebral bones to shift and slide out of alignment.

If your back pain stems from these or any other serious condition, TLIF is an option you should consider. But is it a long-term and successful solution?

Why Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion Works

Not only is TLIF a convenient surgery, it’s one with an extremely high success rate, too.

The surgery itself has been perfected to cause minimal issues for both patients and the surgeon performing it.

Although it’s a relatively small incision, there’s a larger surface area available to facilitate fusion. Fusion can be achieved in both the front and the back with one simple surgery.

By working with the foramen, pain, injury, and scarring to the nerve roots are reduced because the surgeon doesn’t have to forcefully retract them.

Once the procedure is complete, patients will be expected to stay in the hospital for up to five days and will be given narcotics to deal with the pain, but a walking program is started the very next day.

The success rate is incredible! Patients report a 60-70% reduction in pain after the surgery and about 80% of them are satisfied with the results post-op.

They quickly return to work and get back to enjoying their now-pain-free lives.

If you’re ready to work, move, and live without pain, contact Dr. Spivak and have a discussion about whether TLIF is your best option.