published Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Ask A Doctor: My neck pops, cracks and hurts. My X-ray showed disc degeneration. What are my options?

By Dr. Jay E. Jolley

Q: My neck pops, cracks and hurts, especially at night. My X-ray showed disc degeneration. What are my options?

A: Disc degeneration is a common source of neck pain. It often will radiate into the shoulder blade and arm regions. Numbness and tingling in the arm and hands is not unusual. Turning one's head upwards often will exacerbate the pain, and headaches are not infrequent. Treatment initially consists of an evaluation by your medical provider and possibly additional X-rays or an MRI. Short courses of physical therapy or chiropractic treatments can diminish neck and arm pain. Patients with four to six weeks' duration of symptoms likely may experience improvement with time. If these do not provide adequate relief, surgical procedures may be a good option. These are typically performed outpatient or with an overnight stay. They involve taking the pressure off the nerve(s). Recovery is usually quick, and as tolerated, activities are encouraged. Newer technologies such as artificial disk replacement have emerged and are reasonable for some with degenerative conditions of the neck.

— Dr. Jay E. Jolley, Southeastern Spine; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

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