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X-ray shows Degeneration in My Neck? What are My treatment options?

Posted May 05 2012 3:09pm

About one to two times a week, I am asked this question by our customers and our patients. My cervical spine x-ray shows degeneration at level C4/C5 (or another level), what are my treatment options? What products do you recommend?

In most cases the patient has already seen their primary care physician and have been recommended some kind of medication (painkillers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, and muscle relaxants). For some patients, this is all they need, and they get the relief that they are looking for. But not everyone falls into this boat. Well what else then? Taking medication for the rest of your life may not be the answer. It may be great for short term pain relief and some long term pain relief, but in the future, side effects can arise from prolonged use of these meds. 

Cervical degeneration Degenerative "disease" includes the changes associated with spinal wear and tear or age. For some patients, this degeneration may appear on the x-ray a lot earlier in their life. This may be due to a neck injury (for example from a car accident ), whiplash type accident or poor neck posture. Upon having an  x-ray, loss of disc space between the bones, changes in the bone, changes in the cervical alignment and bone spurs may show up. There are also phases of degeneration (Phase I- IV). That is a heavy topic we will talk about in another blog post. 

Degeneration in the neck means a decrease in neck range of motion- that is our ability to turn our head, flex our head forward and back, and move to both sides. In terms of real symptoms it may present itself as neck pain, stiffness, difficulty getting into the right position for sleeping. It can also mean weakness with numbness and tingling in the upper extremity. Degenerative changes in the spine can also be referred to cervical spondylosis.

One of keys to treating degeneration is motion. They say, "motion is life". This is because all moving parts should be able to move. All bones in the spine have a certain degree of motion. This allows for water and other nutrients to get into the joints. It also allows for inflammation and waste products to escape.  When inflammation accumulates, this may account for a lot of the pain and symptoms that may arise. 

Stretching and exercises , chiropractic treatments and therapy, muscle massage and increased hydration (drinking more water) helps keeps this joints lubricated and mobile. These are the best natural treatments that can and should be done to slow the arthritic process from occuring. Doing activities such as yoga, and tai chi, and swimming also help to keep motion in the joints. 

The first product we would recommend is the arc4life cervical traction neck pillow . This helps to restore normal neck alignment taking off pressure off of nerves, thus reducing pain. 

I would also recommend some sort of hot and cold pack . A hot pack can be used to increase mobility and reduce pain. A cold pack, can be used to reduce inflammation and lessen pain. I would recommend a hot and cold pack that fits around the neck such a 6"x20" (cervical therapy pack) or a 9"x16" (tri-sectional therapy pack) which also covers the upper back and shoulders.

Another great recommendation is a tens unit which can dissipate the inflammation and relax the muscles. You can use a pain relief gel such as biofreeze or sombre (a warming gel).

Finally, another tool for muscle massage at home is a backKnobber which can work on trigger points in the muscle. 


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