Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease

Cervical degenerative disc disease is a common cause of neck and radiating arm pain. It occurs when one or more of the discs in the cervical spine start to break down due to normal use.


If you have degenerative disc disease, you may experience:

  • Pain related to an activity that flares up and then returns low or no pain
  • A range from no pain to irritation to severe and disabling pain
  • Severe episodes of back or neck pain that lasts from a couple days to a couple months and then returning to the patient’s normal level of pain
  • A disabling pain (although rare)


A goal for pain management is to reduce pain enough to enable you to do exercises and complete a rehabilitation program. These are best done under the guidance of a trained health professional, such as a physiatrist, physical therapist or chiropractor. For most people, treatment may include medical, alternative and/or self-care approaches. You may need to try each option to see which best works for you.

There are surgical options but you will be advised to make a serious effort with nonsurgical treatments before considering surgery.