Narrator: This is Science Today. Cervical disc disease is a very broad term used to describe many different problems that involve the cervical spine, which is located in the neck. Dr. Kee Kim, co-director of the University of California , Davis Health System Spine Program, explains that there are three areas that can degenerate at each motion segment.
Kim: As we age, there is natural degenerative changes that occur in our body. We use the term arthritic changes – that's the term that a lot of people understand, where bone spurs can form, ligament can degenerate, disc can degenerate. As a result, that can lead to problems with pain.
Narrator: This pain sometimes goes away without therapy, but for patients who do not get better, standard treatment are medication, physical therapy or decompression and spinal fusion surgery. Now, Kim is part of a nationwide trial looking into using an artificial cervical disc.
Kim: I believe that there will be more patients, who when they undergo surgery, get artificial discs as opposed to fusion and that will clearly be the standard treatment in the near future.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.