Three Common Questions for Treating Upper Neck and Back Pain
You might not know it, but your spine relies on a lot of support to keep it protected and functioning properly. Your body is designed so that your spinal bones (called vertebrae) are complemented by a series of round, flat discs in order to cushion and encourage movement. When these discs wear away over time, however, problems tend to pop up. You’ll feel serious, persistent pain, and when it’s concentrated in your upper back and neck regions, both work and rest (and even sleep) will become much more difficult.
Though it always helps to meet with a doctor to have him or her give the final word, some of your best options for dealing with neck and back pain can be implemented through a shift in your lifestyle. Better posture, for one thing, can be of much help, as can simple massage and relaxation techniques. But that still doesn’t really answer the question of where neck pain comes from in the first place.
Why do our discs lose their function over time?
Humans are constantly aging, and as of right now, there’s still no way to prevent our bodies from growing older. As such, we have to take the side effects that come along with aging, and disc degeneration is just another part of the deal. Scientifically, we lose some of the fluid that helps keep the spinal discs flexible over time, and that’s when the pain begins to set in in our upper backs and necks. This is typically referred to as disc degeneration.
Is that the same as cervical disc herniation?
No, not entirely. With that specific spinal condition, the disc bulges out from its place inside the spine and protrudes, causing severe pain and discomfort throughout the neck and back. But in addition to pain, there are also other symptoms — numbness and weakness being other commonly reported ones. (This is the spinal cord we’re dealing with.) Herniated discs can sometimes be treated with physical therapy, but other times, neck surgery — cervical fusion, specifically — is really the best option.
What is cervical fusion, exactly?
Cervical fusion will take two portions of the spine that have been separated and literally fuse them together. Doctors will make a small incision in the neck and use tools to locate your problem areas and removing the damaged or degenerated disc altogether. Once it’s gone, the doctors can replace it with some kind of apparatus to keep it mobile. These apparatuses are called “disc implants” and can be made from metal or plastic.
Of course, every person has a different spine, which means every spine is going to have a different best course of action for getting better. Always consult your doctor about which spinal option will be best for you. More info like this.