Neck and spine disease, sometimes even known as cervicalgia, is a common condition that affects the joints and discs in your cervical spine, which is in your neck. It’s also known as cervical or neck arthritis.
It develops from the wear and tear of cartilage and bones. While it’s largely the result of age, it can be caused by other factors as well.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, the condition is present in more than 90 percent of people aged 60 and older.
Some people who have it never experience symptoms. For others, it can cause chronic, severe pain, and stiffness. However, many people who have it are able to conduct normal daily activities.
Causes of Neck and Spine Disease
The bones and protective cartilage in your neck are prone to wear and tear which can lead to neck and spine disease. Possible causes of the condition include:
1. Bone spurs
These overgrowths of bone are the result of the body trying to grow extra bone to make the spine stronger.
However, the extra bone can press on delicate areas of the spine, such as the spinal cord and nerves, resulting in pain.
2. Dehydrated spinal discs
Your spinal bones have discs between them, which are thick, padlike cushions that absorb the shock of lifting, twisting, and other activities. The gel-like material inside these discs can dry out over time. This causes your bones (spinal vertebrae) to rub together more, which can be painful.
This process can begin to happen in your 30s.
3. Herniated discs
Spinal discs can develop cracks, which allows leakage of the internal cushioning material. This material can press on the spinal cord and nerves, resulting in symptoms such as arm numbness as well as pain that radiates down an arm. Learn more about herniated discs.
If you’ve had an injury to your neck (during a fall or car accident, for example), this can accelerate the aging process.
5 Ligament stiffness
The tough cords that connect your spinal bones to each other can become even stiffer over time, which affects your neck movement and makes the neck feel tight.
Some occupations or hobbies involve repetitive movements or heavy lifting (such as construction work). This can put extra pressure on the spine, resulting in early wear and tear.
Symptoms of Neck and Spine Disease
Most people with neck and spine don’t have significant symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they can range from mild to severe and may develop gradually or occur suddenly.
One common symptom is pain around the shoulder blade. Some complaint of pain along the arm and in the fingers. The pain might increase when:
- tilting your neck backward
Another common symptom is muscle weakness. Muscle weakness makes it hard to lift the arms or grasp objects firmly.
Other common signs include:
- A stiff neck that becomes worse
- Headaches that mostly occur in the back of the head
- Tingling or numbness that mainly affects the shoulders and arms, although it can also occur in the legs
Symptoms that occur less frequently often include a loss of balance and a loss of bladder or bowel control. These symptoms warrant immediate medical attention.
Treatment for Neck and Spine Disease
There is a great deal of research supporting the utilization of stem cell therapy for various cervical spine disorders, including degenerative disc disease, ligament injury, and arthritis, amongst others. For most patients, a stem cell treatment is all that is needed to greatly reduce their chronic neck pain, and the pain relief can last for many years. For patients with severe degenerative disease, multiple injections may be needed.