Many people may experience neck, shoulder, and/or arm pain in their lifetime due to disc abnormalities in the neck. These complaints can be signs of disc herniations or disc degeneration, and/or arthritis of the neck.
The cervical spine (neck) is composed of vertebral bodies (the bony building blocks of the spine) and intervertebral discs, which act as combination universal joints and shock absorbers between the vertebrae. With time, the discs can become worn out and cause pain and/or other symptoms, a condition typically referred to as degenerative disc disease, a subgroup of which will include cervical disc herniations. This means the disc becomes compressed, frayed, and/or herniates into the adjacent spinal canal where it can press on nerves or the spinal cord.
Most patients with these types of symptoms do not need surgery. They typically can improve with conservative (non-surgical) treatment, which may include anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, or cold/heat therapy. Over 90% of patients will experience pain relief with these modalities within four to six weeks.