The cervical spine in your neck is made up of seven bones called vertebrae, which are separated by discs filled with a cushioning gel-like substance. Your cervical discs both stabilize your neck and allow it to turn smoothly from side to side and bend forward to back.
Over time, these natural shock absorbers become worn and can start to degenerate. The space between the vertebrae narrows and nerve roots become pinched.
The most common and obvious symptoms of cervical degenerative disc disease are neck pain and a stiff neck. When one of these conditions presses on one or more of the many nerves running through the spinal cord, you also can develop pain, numbness, or weakness radiating down your shoulder, arm, and hand.
Pain associated with degenerative disc disease can be inflammatory and/or mechanical. Inflammatory pain is caused by the release of chemicals in the nucleus that irritate nerve endings in the annulus fibrosus. Mechanical pain is due to the physical compression of a nerve root as a result of herniation or disc space compression.