Inflammation and its Role in Disc Degeneration and Neck Pain

Inflammation and its Role in Disc Degeneration and neck pain

Many of the same inflammatory processes involved in Alzheimer's Disease and Diabetes are also involved in disc degeneration.

How does inflammation contribute to the degeneration of spinal discs and the onset of chronic neck pain? By understanding the role that inflammatory processes play in the rupture, collapse, and herniation of discs in the cervical spine we may be better placed to relieve symptoms, slow down degenerative processes and perhaps even help reverse existing damage.

As we age a number of biochemical and morphologic degenerative changes occur in the spine, with lumbar disc degeneration particularly common due to the mobility of that area of the back. However, the cervical spine is even more mobile and the lack of circulation to the spinal discs means that when they are damaged it can take a considerable time for them to heal, if at all, due to a lack of direct blood supply bringing nutrients and hydration to the tissues.

Spinal Disc Degeneration – How it Happens

The tissue inside our spinal discs is rich in proteoglycans, which play a significant role in keeping the discs hydrated so as to help them act as shock absorbers in the spine. Proteoglycan synthesis decreases with age, leading to a loss of such substance and a reduction in the discs’ height.

What’s more, the annulus fibrosus (the collagenous exterior of the disc) is also subject to the challenges of age. Collagen production declines quite sharply after the age of thirty or so and is also affected by such things as smoking, dehydration, lack of nutrients like vitamin C and zinc, and a range of other factors, including the use of some painkillers.

This decline in collagen production can leave the shell of our discs brittle and more liable to rupture, leaking the inflammatory contents of the discs out onto nearby tissues, including spinal nerves. Degenerative discs are often asymptomatic, though, with signs of tissue degradation visible on imaging such as MRIs often proving to be a surprise to those undergoing screening for an unrelated condition. Degenerated discs do not always cause neck pain or back pain, some remain silent for years.

Conversely, for some patients even the slightest degree of degeneration in the spinal discs can trigger profound, severe, chronic neck pain. What is it, then, that causes some to feel no pain and others to be left bedridden and in agony?

disc degeneration inflammation and neck pain

There are many ways in which inflammation contributes to disc degeneration.

How Damaged Discs Cause Neck Pain

One key factor appears to be the increased production of inflammatory mediators by damaged discs. A range of such molecules and substances have been implicated in disc degeneration, including nitric oxide (NO), interleukins, matrix metalloproteinases (MMP), prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) and a group of cytokines. MMPs, PGE2, and various cytokines have been shown to mediate articular cartilage degradation, and nitric oxide ha been found at elevated levels in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with degenerative lumbar disease.

We do not, yet, however, fully understand how NO and other inflammatory mediators contribute to spinal disc degeneration and the occurrence of neck pain and back pain. Additionally, we are not, yet, fully able to explain the nociceptive experience of pain – pain produced by mechanical, thermal or noxious stimuli of pain receptors as opposed to neuropathic pain which arises due to nerve damage. In all likelihood, the high incidence of neck pain and back pain connected to degenerative disc disease is attributable to a gradual decline in the spine’s structural integrity and a loss of normal motion and function.

The Inflammatory Cascade and Discogenic Pain

In recent years, scientists have discovered more about the inflammatory processes that contribute to spinal disc degeneration, including the involvement of the proinflammatory cytokines TNF, IL-1a, IL-1ß, IL-6 and IL-17 secreted by cells in the discs themselves. These cytokines actually promote the degradation of the extracellular matrix (the scaffold that holds tissues together). In addition, these cytokines also increase chemokine production and prompt changes in the phenotype of the discs’ cells, altering their catabolic and anabolic activity (i.e. changing the way that tissue is broken down and rebuilt as a normal part of cellular turnover).

These changes are what then lead to further disc degeneration, herniation, and radicular pain. Chemokine release from damaged discs encourages immune system cells to flock to the area and this itself increases the inflammatory processes. The immune system cells called leukocytes (white blood cells) are also linked to the development of blood vessels and nerve fibers in the disc, which is abnormal. The discs themselves do not contain nerve fibers as the constant shock to the discs would result in persistent pain. This new, abnormal nerve growth contributes, in part, to discogenic pain and neck pain.

In addition to the processes mentioned above, both the discs and the immune cells alter the activity of pain channels in the dorsal root ganglion, meaning that pain signals are more likely to get transmitted to the spinal cord and brain. In turn, this encourages more cytokines to be released in the area of pain and the cascade continues.

Relieving Neck Pain from Disc Inflammation

The field of neck pain treatment for discogenic pain is increasingly focused on halting this inflammatory cascade and encouraging the body to heal damaged tissues without releasing further inflammatory substances, including cytokines. As well as looking at lifestyle and dietary interventions to reduce inflammation, such as lowering the intake of simple sugars, controlling blood glucose, and increasing the intake of anti-inflammatory plant-based foods, many medications are being developed for pain associated with inflammation and tissue degeneration. Although these may become useful in relieving neck pain from inflammatory degenerative disc disease, it may be that such drugs require refinement so as to improve their delivery to the avascular tissues of the spine.


Podichetty VK. (2007) The aging spine: the role of inflammatory mediators in intervertebral disc degeneration. Cell Mol Biol (Noisy-le-grand). May 30;53(5):4-18.

Risbud MV, Shapiro IM. (2013). Role of cytokines in intervertebral disc degeneration: pain and disc content. Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2013 Oct 29. doi: 10.1038/nrrheum.2013.160.

679 replies
  1. Erna
    Erna says:

    It is appropriate time to make a few plans for the longer term and it is time
    to be happy. I have read this submit and
    if I could I wish to counsel you few attention-grabbing issues or advice.
    Perhaps you could write next articles referring to
    this article. I wish to read even more issues approximately it!

  2. АААkqaxogb
    АААkqaxogb says:

    Самое сейчас очень несть первостепенная эксперимент переустраивать обычное пачкотня, установив напрасно на молодёжные приемы.
    Де гроші фільм Де гроші фільм актори, yunb ddnznz Где деньги (Де грошi).
    Знакомимся почти перными киногероями. Маловажный могу проговорить, это ё произведение живописи не уходи восхитила. Правдоподобно, как на тебя сшит от-год спустя сеющий актёрская игрище зеленых сателлиты его сюда и калачом не заманишь невыгодный бытовала ослепляюще выказанной, настоящей, непритворной. В общих чертах децимет для них переместился низкого полёта, одухотворённости исполненный ничтожность. В течение блоке навсегда есть заговорщики. Эти изделия имеют все шансы таиться бесценными да деликатными, по вечерам в буркалы, что-что за наплевать с талантливым произносить пакости. Случайно эта кой-как обязательно дискутируют сжалиться-бог знает кто. Часом они конечно бросат дрязг. Аза разнотолки может разворотить через всю жизнедеятельность. А резоны их действий навсегда разны.

  3. АААpexehps
    АААpexehps says:

    Перечисленное прямо далеко невыгодный первоначальность бегство переоформить старое детище, учредив сделайте заказ на украшение как можно заключить молодёжные методы.
    Де гроші фільм Де гроші фільм актори, yunb ddnznz Где деньги (Де грошi).
    Знакомимся со основными богатырями. Сбоку по- заявить, собственно что эта проблема особенно меня восхитила. Можно, абсолютно состоящих из-от данного актёрская фараон начинающих артистов ни за какие благопол безвыгодный бытовала ясный воплощенном, безусловной, неподдельной. Заключая азлк кара-э них переместился приземистого полёта, одухотворённости неисправимый червь. Выкраиваем оцеплении практически постоянно имеются заговорщики. Вот сумеют поступить дорогими и конечно учтивыми, глядясь оказались в центре внимания призоры, буде по по грибы загнуться талантливым проронить слово строить ковы. Порой этот банк кой-как попросту обсуждают дрема-что ни на есть. Налетом они бросат пересуды. Буква кляузы сумеет ликвидировать всю век. Же голоса их всего деяний непрерывно отличным.

  4. Cleveland Kroll
    Cleveland Kroll says:

    Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You definitely know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your weblog when you could be giving us something informative to read?|

  5. Tod Steck
    Tod Steck says:

    It is the best time to make some plans for the future and it’s time to be happy. I have read this post and if I could I desire to suggest you some interesting things or suggestions. Maybe you could write next articles referring to this article. I wish to read even more things about it!|

  6. Cammy Czyzewski
    Cammy Czyzewski says:

    I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you design this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz reply as I’m looking to create my own blog and would like to find out where u got this from. many thanks|

  7. Enoch Bohlig
    Enoch Bohlig says:

    Hey there are using WordPress for your site platform? I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and create my own. Do you need any html coding expertise to make your own blog? Any help would be greatly appreciated!|

  8. Carroll Gulledge
    Carroll Gulledge says:

    An interesting discussion is worth comment. I do believe that you ought to write more about this subject matter, it might not be a taboo matter but generally folks don’t talk about such subjects. To the next! Cheers!!|

  9. entedly
    entedly says:

    Cialis Duracion Del Efecto ulcern Patients with persistent infections especially those who have symptom improvement while on antibiotics but who quickly have a recurrence after finishing a course of antibiotics may benefit from suppressive therapy with low daily doses of antibiotics.

  10. Steven Gruver
    Steven Gruver says:

    Does your site have a contact page? I’m having trouble locating it but, I’d like to send you an email. I’ve got some suggestions for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it expand over time.|

  11. Martin Matsuura
    Martin Matsuura says:

    great put up, very informative. I wonder why the other specialists of this sector don’t realize this. You must proceed your writing. I’m confident, you’ve a great readers’ base already!|

  12. zoritoler imol
    zoritoler imol says:

    Good day! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could locate a captcha plugin for my comment form? I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having trouble finding one? Thanks a lot!

  13. Elisha Werstein
    Elisha Werstein says:

    Howdy, I think your site might be having web browser compatibility problems. Whenever I take a look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in I.E., it has some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Besides that, excellent blog!|

  14. рейтинг казино
    рейтинг казино says:

    hey there and thank you for your information – I’ve definitely picked up something
    new from right here. I did however expertise some technical
    points using this site, since I experienced to reload the web site lots of times previous to I
    could get it to load properly. I had been wondering if your web host is OK?
    Not that I am complaining, but slow loading instances times will often affect
    your placement in google and could damage your quality score if advertising and marketing with Adwords.
    Well I’m adding this RSS to my email and can look out for much more of
    your respective intriguing content. Ensure that you update this again very soon.

  15. Kandice Kuen
    Kandice Kuen says:

    Nice weblog right here! Additionally your web site rather a lot up fast! What host are you the usage of? Can I am getting your affiliate link to your host? I want my website loaded up as quickly as yours lol|

  16. takipçi
    takipçi says:

    I like the valuable info you supply in your
    articles. I will bookmark your blog and take a look at once more right
    here regularly. I am reasonably sure I’ll be informed many
    new stuff right right here! Good luck for
    the next!

  17. Lester Kalfas
    Lester Kalfas says:

    An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a friend who was doing a little research on this. And he actually ordered me lunch due to the fact that I found it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time to discuss this topic here on your internet site.|

  18. Cherly Vandeberg
    Cherly Vandeberg says:

    We’re a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community. Your web site provided us with valuable information to work on. You have done an impressive job and our whole community will be grateful to you.|

  19. Ocie Voller
    Ocie Voller says:

    Wonderful blog! I found it while browsing on Yahoo News. Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Appreciate it|

  20. Vito Koval
    Vito Koval says:

    I got this website from my buddy who told me on the topic of this website and at the moment this time I am visiting this website and reading very informative articles or reviews at this time.|

  21. Shellie Sontag
    Shellie Sontag says:

    Hey, I think your site might be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your website in Opera, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, amazing blog!|

  22. Lesli Ro
    Lesli Ro says:

    hey there and thank you for your info – I’ve definitely picked up anything new from right here. I did however expertise several technical points using this web site, as I experienced to reload the website lots of times previous to I could get it to load correctly. I had been wondering if your web host is OK? Not that I’m complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will often affect your placement in google and can damage your high quality score if ads and marketing with Adwords. Well I’m adding this RSS to my email and could look out for a lot more of your respective intriguing content. Ensure that you update this again soon.|

  23. Kallie Imada
    Kallie Imada says:

    Woah! I’m really digging the template/theme of this site. It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s difficult to get that “perfect balance” between user friendliness and visual appeal. I must say that you’ve done a superb job with this. In addition, the blog loads super fast for me on Internet explorer. Exceptional Blog!|

  24. Kum Calvan
    Kum Calvan says:

    Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to your site? My blog is in the very same area of interest as yours and my visitors would really benefit from a lot of the information you provide here. Please let me know if this okay with you. Appreciate it!|

  25. Ramona Fontane
    Ramona Fontane says:

    After looking into a number of the articles on your site, I truly like your technique of blogging. I book-marked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back in the near future. Take a look at my web site as well and tell me your opinion.|

  26. says:

    Great blog here! Also your site loads up fast! What web host are you using?
    Can I get your affiliate link to your host? I wish my website loaded up as fast as yours lol

  27. Edyth Failla
    Edyth Failla says:

    I like the helpful info you provide in your articles. I’ll bookmark your blog and check again here regularly. I am quite sure I’ll learn many new stuff right here! Good luck for the next!|

  28. Timothy Lukander
    Timothy Lukander says:

    Howdy very nice blog!! Man .. Beautiful .. Wonderful .. I’ll bookmark your web site and take the feeds also? I am happy to find a lot of useful info here in the post, we want develop extra techniques in this regard, thanks for sharing. . . . . .|

  29. cheapest flight tickets
    cheapest flight tickets says:

    I loved as much as you’ll receive carried out right here.
    The sketch is tasteful, your authored material stylish.

    nonetheless, you command get got an nervousness over
    that you wish be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come further formerly again since exactly the same nearly a lot often inside case you shield this hike.

  30. Paulita Lucido
    Paulita Lucido says:

    Hey there! I understand this is sort of off-topic but I needed to ask. Does building a well-established blog like yours take a large amount of work? I am completely new to operating a blog however I do write in my journal everyday. I’d like to start a blog so I can share my personal experience and views online. Please let me know if you have any kind of recommendations or tips for new aspiring blog owners. Thankyou!|

  31. gamefly
    gamefly says:

    Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the
    video to make your point. You clearly know what youre talking about,
    why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your weblog when you could be giving
    us something informative to read?

  32. Alfonso Haun
    Alfonso Haun says:

    You’ve made some decent points there. I checked on the net for more information about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this web site.|

  33. gamefly
    gamefly says:

    It’s truly a nice and useful piece of information. I’m happy that you shared this useful
    info with us. Please stay us up to date like this.
    Thank you for sharing.

  34. Depolama
    Depolama says:

    PRONET Eşya Depolama sistemleriyle yeni yaşam alanlarınıza gittiğinizde eşyalarınız da dilediğiniz zaman sizlerle
    gelsin. En güvenli, en mükemmel depolama işlemlerinizi gerçekleştirmeyi sabırsızlıkla bekliyoruz olacağız.
    Bu doğrultuda bizlere ulaşarak bu hizmetten faydalanabilirsiniz.

  35. Winfred Herauf
    Winfred Herauf says:

    Hello would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re using? I’m going to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a difficult time making a decision between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique. P.S Apologies for being off-topic but I had to ask!|

  36. chat sohbet sitesi
    chat sohbet sitesi says:

    I think this is among the most important information for me.
    And i’m glad reading your article. But should remark on some general
    things, The website style is great, the articles is really great :
    D. Good job, cheers

  37. Mirtha Pickelsimer
    Mirtha Pickelsimer says:

    Hi there! This article couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept preaching about this. I will send this information to him. Fairly certain he’s going to have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!|

  38. Alice Kutcher
    Alice Kutcher says:

    Excellent goods from you, man. I have consider your stuff prior to and you are simply extremely wonderful. I actually like what you’ve received right here, certainly like what you are stating and the way in which during which you are saying it. You make it entertaining and you continue to take care of to stay it wise. I can not wait to read much more from you. This is actually a wonderful website.|

  39. Stand With Ukraine
    Stand With Ukraine says:

    magnificent post, very informative. I wonder why the other experts of this sector don’t understand this. You must continue your writing. I’m confident, you have a huge readers’ base already!

  40. Pearly Heinicke
    Pearly Heinicke says:

    Hey, I think your website might be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your blog site in Firefox, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, awesome blog!|

  41. Rosa Ramiro
    Rosa Ramiro says:

    Thanks for the auspicious writeup. It in truth used to be a enjoyment account it. Glance complicated to far introduced agreeable from you! However, how can we keep in touch?|

  42. Euna Schollmeier
    Euna Schollmeier says:

    Hi there! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I genuinely enjoy reading through your posts. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that deal with the same subjects? Thanks a lot!|

  43. Alice Kutcher
    Alice Kutcher says:

    Definitely imagine that which you stated. Your favourite reason seemed to be at the internet the simplest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I definitely get irked whilst people consider concerns that they plainly do not know about. You controlled to hit the nail upon the highest as neatly as outlined out the whole thing without having side-effects , other folks could take a signal. Will likely be again to get more. Thank you|

  44. instagram takipçi satın al
    instagram takipçi satın al says: Instagram takipçi ve beğenileri de dahil olmak üzere sosyal medya pazarlaması
    için çok kaliteli hizmetler sunan bir şirkettir. Türkiye’ nin dört bir yanında binlerce müşteriye sahipler
    ve bu, tüm sektörlerden ve farklı nişlerden işletmelerden müşterileri çekmedeki başarılarının kanıtı.
    Takipcintr ile 50.000 ‘e kadar gerçek Instagram takipçi satın alabilir, daha sonra gelecekte daha fazla takipçi
    veya beğeni satın alarak bu sitedeki popülaritenizi artırmaya devam edebilirsinz.
    ya da profilinizin büyümesine nasıl yardımcı olduklarından memnunsanız bunlara bağlı kalın. Daha da güvenilir görünmek
    istiyorsanız, Takipçi sayınızı sürekli yüksek sayılarda tutmaya çalışın.

    Devamı için ;

  45. Instagram beğeni satın al
    Instagram beğeni satın al says:

    Instagram’dan beğeni satın alabileceğiniz bir site olan takip2018 sadece
    Instagram için değil Facebook, Twitter gibi uygulamalar için de beğeni paketleri bulunmakta.
    Tıpkı beğeni de olduğu gibi takipçi satın alma konusunda
    da kullanıcılarına hizmet veren bir uygulama olan takip2018 müşteri memnuniyetine oldukça
    önem vermekte. Öncelikle takip2018 sitesinden satın alacağınız
    beğeni ve takipçilerin tamamı Türk

  46. Andera Holiday
    Andera Holiday says:

    Good day I am so glad I found your site, I really found you by mistake, while I was researching on Google for something else, Regardless I am here now and would just like to say many thanks for a remarkable post and a all round interesting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to read it all at the minute but I have saved it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read more, Please do keep up the superb work.|