Degenerative disk disease (DDD) occurs when the disks in our neck become displaced and intrude upon other structures within the neck, commonly the nerves that run into our arms. DDD is best diagnosed through MRI imaging, however a thorough cervical evaluation can screen patients for DDD as well as other common neck disorders.
Symptoms that relate to degenerative disc disease in the neck include numbness, tingling, or pain that radiates from the neck into the shoulder, arms, or hands. Those symptoms can occur on one or both sides of the body.
If weakness of the shoulders or arms is present, generally more compression of our nerves has occurred and this requires immediate attention so that permanent damage can be avoided.
What to expect from therapy
Physical therapy for DDD of the neck addresses patient’s primary symptoms. Cervical traction can assist in decreasing symptoms that radiate into the upper extremity and manual therapy techniques can restore mobility and decrease neck pain. In addition, the conservative approach for management of DDD includes exercises to increase neck stability while structures are allowed to heal without surgical intervention.