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Pain From Arthritis in the Neck

Updated on February 11, 2015

Degeneration of the Cervical Spine Can Cause Neck Pain

Cervical disc degeneration is a form of arthritis in the neck spine. In this hub, I want to discuss the anatomy of the cervical spine or the neck. Specifcally, what makes up a disc and what can cause degeneration to this area of the spine.

Anatomy of the Cervical Spine and Disk

The spine that makes up our neck is called the "Cervical Spine". It is composed of 7 bones or vertebrae. In between each bone is a disc. In between each bone are nerves that exit from the spinal code. These nerves then innervate or feed into our body parts and sensation.

The neck should be shaped like a C Curve (the opening to the curve opens towards our back). There should be an approximate 60 degree curve in the neck. The head should be in alignment with the shoulders.

Let's go back to the spinal disc that makes up the cervical spine. The disc is important because this is the shock absorber of the body. That disc has 2 main components:

1. Annular Fibers- hard circular exterior

2. Nucleus Pulposis - has a jelly like interior

To visualize this, think of a jelly donut. The outside of the donut is the annual fibers. The inside of the disc in the inside of the jelly donut: the nucleus pulposis.

When injury and/or wear and tear occurs to the disc, this nucleus pulposis material can bulge or protrude from the disc. This then puts pressure on the nerves (or can cause inflammation, which creates pressure on the nerves). This nerve pressure than causes our pain symptoms that we associate with a disc herniation or a disc bulge: pain that shoots or radiates, burning pain, numbness and tingling.

Here is a normal xray of the neck.

Notice the C Curve. Notice the bones are formed properly with spaces in between for the discs.
Notice the C Curve. Notice the bones are formed properly with spaces in between for the discs. | Source

What Happens to the Disc As We Age or if we have neck injury or trauma?

As we age, changes can take place to the disc system. The annular fibers can become thinner. The nucleus pulposis can be become less gel like. The disc system loses its ability to become load bearing.

This process of disc degeneration can also occur with whiplash type of injuries that often happen in motor vehicle accidents, jarring injuries, misalignments of the neck bones, and bad neck posture.

Cevical Disc degeneration can cause a change in the spinal alignment. As we mentioned earlier the neck spine should be in the form of C if we look from the side. What happens with degeneration? This C can turn into a straight line. This is called a straight neck or a military neck. Further degeneration can even cause a reverse in the c curve. Then you have a reverse neck curve. So now the neck curve is a backwards C.

This change in shape to the neck curve causes more stress on the bones and discs that make the anatomy in this area of the spine. Here is where actual degeneration or changes in the bone can take place in the spine. Bone spurs, erosin, weakness can all occur.

Most noticeable are the changes to your posture. You may see a forward head posture. This adds a lot of extra pressure to the neck spine.

Xray of the Neck Showing Degeneration


You Cannot See Degeneration in the Spine....

After Having An X-ray on your Neck, Have You been told You Have Degeneration in Your Neck?

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Many of us get arthritis as we get older...

This can be true, as we age, our body will breakdown more. Like a car, chances are that a new one, just off the lot won't have any rust. But one that's thirteen your old might.

If we played contact sport our whole lives, had multiple car accidents, ate cocoa puffs for breakfast for 40 years, we might not be as healthy as the next person. Maybe arthritis ran in the family also, and you didn't really do anything in hopes of preventing it. Will the body appear more broken down as the years go bet!

My mother and grandmother were both hunched over from major arthritis?

If my family has had degeneration, does that mean I'll have it? You see you genes are a path laid down for you. Do you have to follow that exact path - No! According to chiropractic is a treatment that may help arthritis.

This is just one treatment out there, but diet, exercise and way of life, have proven to be a big help. Let's say for example the you typically endure whiplash to your neck on a regular basis. Will taking the "whiplash" out of your life help. I'm sure it will, because having that happen will contribute to neck arthritis a degeneration.

How Having Cervical Degernation Can Affect your Posture and Health

There are many different forms of Arthitis

We can mainly lump them into inflammatory arthritis and non-inflammatory. Before we do that, let's mention some terms we use that are synonymous with arthritis. They would be degeneration, deterioration, break-down, and wear and tear. Basically, as you can tell, they all describe something that is wearing out!

The big players (non-inflammatory) are djd or degenerative joint disease, and rheumatoid arthritis (inflammatory). Inflammatory arthritis is thought to have an auto-immune component. This doesn't, however mean there's nothing you can do. The same things that help prevent any arthritis may help you. A non-inflammatory diet may help.

Have You Been Diagnosed with a Straight Neck or have Cervical Degeneration? If Yes, tell us about it.

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      Journey 3 years ago

      More posts of this quialty. Not the usual c***, please

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      Ahmad 3 years ago

      What an inspirational video! It gives me hope about my own sittuaion. I work as a long distance trucker and I can really relate to David's comments that his pain was starting to interfere with his driving. Sometimes it feels as if my neck and shoulders are on *fire* after a long haul. It is becoming a bigger and bigger hindrence to doing my job. I am very interested in learning more aobut your Center and how spinal decompression might be able to help me. Thanks! Also, it was great to hear you guys are not pushy.