Made up of the top seven spine vertebrae, doctors usually refer to the cervical spine vertebrae as ‘C’, which stands for ‘cervical’, and then the numbers one through seven. These numbers represent the vertebrae level with C7 closest to the chest while C1 is the vertebrae closest to the skull. The neck spine is very susceptible to several types of degenerative problems because of its complex anatomy and large motion range, which can result in cervical neck pain.

A few of the symptoms that may indicate the existence of a cervical spine degenerative condition include cervical neck pain, arm complaints such as weakness, numbness or pain, and pain that spreads or radiates into the shoulder blade. Cervical pain resulting from a degenerative change such as osteoarthritis or abnormal adhesions and rigidity, is relatively common. The degenerative process, which causes cervical neck pain, may start in any of the cervical spine joints. Over time, this could induce secondary changes to other joints in the neck, increasing cervical pain.

To diagnose a degenerative disorder causing the cervical neck pain accurately, the doctor will assess and examine the patient, ask questions to get a detailed medical history of his or her condition, and run several types of tests. X-rays are important for identifying cervical neck pain problems such as spinal arthritis or spondylosis. Aging is the primary cause of spinal osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative disorder that can result in loss of normal spine function and structure causing cervical neck pain. X-rays also help identify bony spurs. Doctors may also use other diagnostic tools to help identify the problem causing the cervical neck pain such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT).

Once the doctor completes all the necessary tests and examinations to identify the cause of the cervical neck pain, he or she will develop a treatment plan for the patient. In over three quarters of cervical degenerative disease patients, non-operative treatment has shown excellent short and long-term results and often reduces cervical neck pain. Some of the non-operative treatments include medications, physical therapy and immobilization. Muscle relaxants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and painkillers can help reduce inflammation and reduce cervical neck pain. Some doctors also recommend anti-depressants when needed. Using a neck collar helps reduce movement during bouts of severe cervical neck pain by reducing neck motion. Chiropractic care brings relief from cervical neck pain in a large number of patients. With today’s advanced technology and expert medical specialists, diagnosing and treating patients with degenerative cervical spine disorders is far more accurate and effectively today.