What is neck pain due to degenerative disorders?
Neck pain is pain affecting the area from the back of the head to the lower end of the neck. If a patient also reports pain outside this area, doctors talk about neck pain radiating to, for instance, the head (cervicogenic headache) or the upper arm. Degenerative means that the problem is caused by deterioration of the spine due to ageing.
Doctors make a distinction between neck pain caused by an accident (whiplash) and neck complaints caused by degenerative disorders. Since the cause of neck pain is often unclear, they distinguish between the cause and the source of the neck pain.
Ageing may cause changes in various parts of a cervical vertebra. The intervertebral disc may become thinner and/or start to protrude (herniated). The small joints between the vertebrae (facet joints) may develop osteoarthritis. But other structures, like ligaments and muscles, may also start to deteriorate with age. The changes in the cervical spine as one grows older are called degenerative disorders, though people also call them 'wear and tear'. What is important to know is that degenerative disorders are not always associated with pain.
Signs and symptoms
The most common complaint among patients with osteoarthritis of the facet joints is pain on one side of their neck, usually not radiating beyond the shoulder. The pain often worsens when patients sit in the same position for a long time, when they turn their head and when they bend backwards.
How are degenerative disorders diagnosed?
If you visit our clinic because of neck pain, you will always be given a neurological examination to exclude a possible herniated cervical disc. In addition, the doctor will test the mobility of your neck and shoulder, to see whether certain movements are restricted or painful. The doctor will also feel your neck to see whether pressing on any of the vertebrae causes pain.
Do I need additional examinations?
- Diagnostic examination for other non-physical factors important for your pain, have already been done by yourself trough filling out your pain questionnaires.
- If necessary, X-rays or scans of your neck will be made to exclude other possible causes.
What are my treatment possibilities?
Depending on the cause of your pain, your pain specialist will decide whether or not to embark on physical treatment. Based on the results of the completed pain questionnaire, additional examinations can be carried out and, apart from physical treatment, other methods of treatment will be suggested.
If the results of your pain questionnaire are abnormal, your pain specialist will offer you one of the non-physical treatments listed below:
- Psychological Treatment
- Depression Treatment
- Cognitive-Behavioural Treatment
- Rehabilitation Treatment
Interventional Pain Treatments