Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment in and around Atlanta
Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease
This refers to disc damage in the neck that can result from either the aging process (genetics) and/or from injuries. Discs act as shock absorbers and allow motion between the bones called vertebrae. When discs are damaged as a result of genetics or trauma, they begin to lose their structural integrity. This loss of structural integrity can result in pain both in the neck and in the arms.
Patients can experience pain, weakness, and even numbness in their neck and/or arms as a result of damage to the discs in their neck.
The diagnosis for disc damage comes after taking a careful history, performing a thorough physical exam and reviewing all necessary imaging studies such as the x-rays, MRIs and CT scans.
For the vast majority of patients, their symptoms of pain, weakness, or numbness can be successfully treated with a combination of medications, and therapy. Therapy can be either physical therapy or chiropractic care. Sometimes medicines, and therapy are not enough. For these patients, epidural injections may be necessary. Epidural injections are steroid injections given into the neck in order to decrease inflammation and pain. While epidural injections tend to be temporary, they can provide excellent short-term to medium-term relief. For neck problems, Dr. Bendiks likes to try at least 3 months of non-surgical treatment before considering surgery.
If the patient has failed an adequate course of non-surgical treatment, and cannot tolerate the pain, then surgery may be an option. Surgery for damaged discs in the neck consists primarily of fusion or artificial disc replacement. Fusion surgery involves gluing the bone above to the bone below in order to stop painful motion through the damaged disc. Artificial disc replacement involves removing the damaged disc and replacing it with a metal and plastic synthetic joint. This artificial disc maintains motion as opposed to fusion which stops motion at the disc. Not all patients are candidates for fusion. Not all patients are candidates for artificial disc replacement. In order to learn more about which surgery may be right for you, please visit with Dr. Erik Bendiks.
Recuperation periods vary from one patient to the next.Depending on the type of surgery and how many discs are treated, recovery may be from just a few weeks up to a couple of months.