Is Your Neck Pain Disc Related?
Discogenic Pain Syndrome is a condition that results from soft tissue damage and associated irritation of the fibers of intervertebral discs. Intervertebral discs are cushions found between each vertebra of the spine that works as shock absorbers to protect the vertebrae by helping dissipate the forces applied to the spine and to help facilitate movement. The cervical discs are located between the vertebrae of the spine in the area we think of like the neck. Intervertebral discs consist of an outer annulus fibrous, made up of tough, fibrous connective tissue, which surrounds a gel-like center called the nucleus pulposus. The outer third of the annulus fibrous is innervated by nerves and contain pain and mechanical receptors which mediate pain transmission from structural damage to the intervertebral discs or indirectly through chemically mediated inflammation.
Cervical disc pain can arise from a variety of reasons, whether by injury or a degenerative condition. In most cases, the condition can be treated to allow the person to continue his/hers active lifestyle.
Potential causes of Cervical Discogenic Pain Syndrome
Direct trauma - falls, motor vehicle accident, whiplash, sports injury
Overuse, fatigue, repetitive microtrauma - over hours, days, months of the same position
Postural - can be either an intrinsic postural problem (e.g., loss of cervical curvature) or an extrinsic postural problem (e.g., prolonged stressful position, protruded head posture).
Sudden unguarded movement.
Degenerative disc disease.
Symptoms of Cervical Discogenic Pain Syndrome
The symptoms will vary depending on whether the condition is caused by a herniated disc or by a degenerative disc. With a herniated disc, some people will not experience pain in the neck but will have radiating pain, tingling, and numbness down the arm or around the shoulder blade due to pressure put on the nerve root. Discogenic pain due to an injury can result in immediate pain or pain shortly after the injury. Headaches (usually cervicogenic) can also result from cervical disc pain.
Treatment of Cervical Discogenic Pain Syndrome
Treatment for cervical discogenic pain will depend on the clinical presentation. Conservative treatment can successfully manage many cervical disc herniations. Initial treatment will focus on controlling pain and inflammation. Once pain and inflammation have decreased, early rehabilitation will help prevent chronic pain and disability. This will consist of osseous manipulation, soft tissue therapy, activity as tolerated, and pain-free range of motion exercises. Late rehabilitation will be administered as the condition improves and will include stabilization exercises, patient education, and postural training. Education in proper training, biomechanics, and a home exercise program will help strengthen the spine and decreases the likelihood of future injury. If you fail to respond to conservative treatment, or in cases of severe pain, diagnostic imaging (x-ray, MRI) will be warranted, and an orthopedic consult may be necessary.