Cervical disc degeneration and neck pain

J Pain Res. 2018 Nov 14;11:2853-2857. doi: 10.2147/JPR.S180018. eCollection 2018.


Cervical intervertebral disc has long been considered a common source of neck pain. However, the pain caused by the disc itself has not been clearly defined so far, and its diagnosis and treatment has always been controversial. Degenerative cervical disc has a rich supply of nerve fibers, is prone to inflammatory reactions, and is susceptible to pain that can be provoked by disc stimulation or distention, and can be eliminated by block. Overwhelming clinical evidence demonstrates that neck pain in patients with degenerative cervical radiculopathy or myelopathy can be subsided rapidly by anterior cervical surgery, further indicating that this neck pain stems from the pathology of cervical disc itself. Cervical discography is advocated as the only test that connects disease to symptoms, but the procedure remains controversial. If strict criteria and technique are maintained, discography can discriminate painful, symptomatic discs from nonpainful, asymptomatic discs. Discogenic neck pain alone without cervical disc herniation or cervical spondylosis accounts for a large proportion of chronic neck pain. For these patients who continue to have refractory neck pain and fail to respond to conservative treatment, anterior cervical fusion surgery or artificial cervical disc replacement may be a better choice, and preoperative cervical discography can guarantee the excellent surgical results. Existing basic and clinical studies have scientifically shown that cervical intervertebral disc degeneration can lead to neck pain.

Keywords: anterior cervical surgery; cervical discography; cervical intervertebral disc; chronic neck pain; disc degeneration; discogenic neck pain.