Rooting Out the Cause of Neck Pain

If you suffer from chronic neck pain, you want answers, and you want them fast. The longer you suffer from neck pain, the more depressed, anxious and desperate you can become.  Your discomfort can affect your sleep, and when you’re sleep deprived your experience of pain becomes even worse, putting you on a relentless spiral of misery.

The path to finding relief begins with an accurate diagnosis. In many cases, our New Jersey cervical spine specialist will be able to determine the cause of your pain relatively quickly, based simply on a physical examination that is supported by diagnostic tests such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). However, in cases when an MRI does not detect either a herniated disc, cervical radiculopathy or some other condition in which something is impinging on a nerve, the physician has to consider the possibility that the source of the neck pain is the cervical intervertebral disc itself.

Though pain caused by a disc is a relatively new notion in spine treatment, it has been gaining more attention recently, and more and more spine specialists are turning to a diagnostic test known as discography. When a discography is ordered, the physician is attempting to determine whether the disc is experiencing degenerative disease that creates its own internal inflammatory reaction. If internal damage to the disc is detected in a specific disc, it provides the physician with the information that they need to move forward with a cervical disc replacement or similar invasive procedure.

A recent study published in the Journal of Pain Research outlines recent research into the generation of pain from within the degenerative cervical disc and examines whether the condition can be remedied in the absence of either disc herniation, cervical radiculopathy or similar conditions. The research indicates that when a degenerated disc is either fused or replaced with an artificial disc, patients can experience the same level of rapid relief of symptoms as is experienced by those suffering from herniation, and the availability of these procedures via a minimally invasive protocol provide even more positive outcomes for the patient.

When a discography is performed, the patient is sedated, a local anesthetic is administered and dye is injected into the discs that have been identified as the potential source of pain. Though the injection into discs that are not internally damaged generally only lead to a sense of pressure, there is some discomfort experienced when a damaged disc receives the dye. An X-ray is performed to view the discs in question so that the exact source of pain can be confirmed and so that the New Jersey cervical spine specialist can then move forward with full confidence as to the best next steps.

At our New Jersey cervical spine specialist’s practice, we always focus on conservative treatments first to try to provide relief in the most non-invasive way. However, if your symptoms do not abate and we need to move forward to more aggressive diagnostics and treatment, you can feel confident in our knowledge, expertise and experience. Contact us today to set up an appointment.

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