Correlation doesn’t imply causation. It’s a commonly expressed caution in the health sciences. What it means is that two things can tend to go together without necessarily causing each other.
It’s common to be upset when you’ve been told that you have degenerative disc disease. It’s an awful sounding diagnosis. It sounds like you have a disease that is deteriorating your spine. And on top of it all, it doesn’t sound like there’s much you can do about it. The spine, it seems, is inevitably degenerating.
The third of three reviews of research on spinal surgery for neck pain was recently published by a group of well-known pain experts (van Middelkoop, et al., 2012; van Middelkoop, et al., 2013; Verhagen, et al., 2013). The investigators undertook the reviews of the research on different aspects of neck surgery because the most recent previous studies, done as Cochrane reviews (Fouyas, et al., 2002; Nikolaidis, et al., 2008), were now outdated. So, they systematically reviewed the latest published research on different types of spinal surgery for neck pain to determine whether and how such surgeries are effective. What they found was that spinal surgery for neck pain is not any more effective than other, less invasive, therapies.
What is neck pain?
Neck pain is one of the most common types of pain disorders in the general population. At any given time, 34-43% of the population report having neck pain. 14-22% percent of the general population report having chronic neck pain.1, 2 Healthcare providers consider pain to be chronic when it lasts longer than six months.