Nothing lasts forever, especially the human body. Decades of bending,
lifting, turning, and twisting can really take their toll on your neck.
Considering all that repetitive stress, it's no surprise that about two-thirds
of people will experience neck pain at some point in their lives.
Cervical disc disease goes beyond just a pain in the neck, though. A
degenerative process can cause radiating pain, as well as numbness and weakness
in your shoulders, arm, and hand. That discomfort and loss of mobility can have
a major impact on your career, family, and quality of life.
Dupuytren's contracture is an abnormal thickening and tightening of the normally elastic tissue beneath the skin of the palm and fingers. This tissue is called fascia. The fascia contains strands of fibers, like cords, that run from the palm upward into the fingers. In Dupuytren's contracture, these cords tighten, or contract, causing the fingers to curl forward. In severe cases, it can lead to crippling hand deformities.
The cervical spine in your neck is made up of seven bones called vertebrae,
which are separated by discs filled with a cushioning gel-like substance. Your
cervical discs both stabilize your neck and allow it to turn smoothly from side
to side and bend forward to back. "Without discs, the spine would be very
stiff," explains Kee Kim, MD, associate professor of Neurological Surgery and
chief of Spinal Neurosurgery at the University of California at Davis. "Discs
allow our body to move in the way that we want. They also provide cushion for
the body, acting as a shock absorber."
Over time, these natural shock absorbers become worn and can start to
degenerate. The space between the vertebrae narrows and nerve roots become
pinched. This process is known as cervical degenerative disc disease. Research
finds that about 25% of people without symptoms under age 40, and 60% over age
40 have some degree of degenerative disc disease. As degenerative disc disease
progresses, the neck becomes less flexible, and you may feel neck pain and
stiffness, especially towards the end of the day.
When the disc breaks open or bulges out, putting pressure on the spinal cord
or nerve roots, it is known as a herniated disc or "slipped disc." Although
cervical disc disease is generally a slow process, a herniated disc sometimes
can occur quickly after an injury or trauma to the neck.
The most common and obvious symptoms of cervical degenerative disc disease
are neck pain and a stiff neck. When one of these conditions presses on one or
more of the many nerves running through the spinal cord, you also can develop
pain, numbness, or weakness radiating down your shoulder, arm, and hand.