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  • Dr. Hamm

The Extreme Dangers of Ignoring Upper Back and Neck Pain

Most anyone who uses a smartphone or computer has experienced neck pain but when the intensity of occasional neck pain increases or remains for prolong periods of time, ignoring it could result in chronic pain which could plague you for the rest of your life.

When you feel pain and soreness in your neck, the discomfort is most likely radiating from your disc. The spinal discs fill the spaces between the bones/vertebra in your spine and give you the ability to bend and move your head. As the body ages, the cartilage that cushions these discs can begin to wear and dessicate (dry out) and make movements in the upper back and neck increasingly stiff. This condition is known as degenerative disc disease and can also be caused by old trauma of the discs and poor posture.

Severe pain ranging from the base of the skull to mid-back can be a sign of disc bulging or compression. People who suffer from the condition experience shoulder pain and numbness in the arms and hands as a result of the stress on the essential nerves. Chronic cervical disc degeneration can leave patients unable to work or complete simple tasks. The intense pain can also alter sleep habits and cause fatigue. Degenerative disc disease can be a life altering condition and leaving the condition undiagnosed and untreated could bring more excruciating chronic pain.

When degenerative disc disease advances and cartilage disappears between joints, the body produces osseous growths in attempts to support the joints. These growths or bone spurs compress the nerves and causes nerve pain and numbness in the fingertips. Bone spurs can also cause radiating pain throughout the limbs, and some severe cases can result in difficulty swallowing and breathing.

A Degenerative disc disease diagnosis doesn’t have to mean a life sentence of chronic pain. There are treatments for the condition that can alleviate pain and restore mobility. One of the most non-evasive treatments for Degenerative disc disease is Non-surgical spinal decompression. Decompressing the disc can greatly improve the strain on your nerves. For the best results, a a course of treatment consists of frequent repetative sessions to improve the health of the disc. Other treatments for degenerative disc disease include peptide therapy and cellular therapy. Many patients enjoy a return of functionality and reduction of pain with effective physical therapy treatments.

Advanced degenerative disc disease may need to be treated with anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxant and pain medications. The risks with these medications can be high and side effects include constipation, nausea, and blurred vision. Painkillers also carry a high risk of increased tolerance and addiction. Extended use of painkillers can cause irritability and anxiety. Withdrawal symptoms are also a concern for some when the use of pain medication stops.

Joint injections are also a treatment option for cervical facet syndrome. Medical branch blocks can be performed by injecting a localized anesthetic with steroid medication to reduce pain. It can be difficult to pinpoint the joint causing pain so several injections may be necessary before targeting the area that will bring relief.

The above two treatment methods only offer temporary results and if used alone will only lead to further degeneration and pain since they do not address the cause of the pain.

Early detection and treatment are essential to avoiding the constant pain of degenerative disc disease. It’s important to get any persistent neck and upper back pain examined by a professional to begin a correction plan that may save you from chronic pain and bone spurs. Pain doesn’t have to limit your life; you could be one exam away from beginning the journey to restore pain-free, full range mobility.

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