Primary Care Physician
Dr. Orrange received her BA in Biology at the University of California, San Diego, and a Masters Degree in Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. She received her MD from the USC Keck School of…
Can Cervical Spine Disc Disease lead to problems swallowing?
Posted in Degenerative Di... by Dr. Sharon Orrange on Nov 17, 2009
A member who had suffered a herniated disc in her cervical spine from a car accident started to have difficulty swallowing and wondered if the two were related.

Cervical spine degenerative disc disease can cause many important and worrisome symptoms. Pain in the neck or arm occurs in nearly all patients with significant cervical spine disc disease. Pain may also be in the shoulder, between the scapula, across the chest or breast, and in the face depending on what level is affected.

Difficulty swallowing as you described can absolutely be related to a herniated disc in the cervical spine. Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, can occur when arthritis changes result in bony growths (osteophytes) that protrude forward and compress the hypopharynx or esophagus. These anterior osteophytes can lead to problems with food getting stuck and difficulty swallowing. What is interesting is these complaints often lead to a gastrointestinal workup, as you had, which is unrevealing.

Cervical spine imaging with MRI or CT is reasonable in your case to see if your problems swallowing and recent pain under your breast and in your back are because of your cervical spine disc disease.

Dr. Orrange
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Dear Dr. Orrange,

Thank you for this article. Can Cervical Spine Disc Disease lead to problems swallowing? 6 Posted in Degenerative Di... by Dr. Sharon Orrange on Nov 17, 2009.

My back is badly warped. I've lost 5" in height. I have problems swallowing meat & fish. I take very small bites and always have water handy. It hurts when it gets stuck all the way down. No problem with most food.

I do a lot of research and this is the first time I've read this explanation.

Thank you for the information.

By lucyebony  Jan 09, 2010
Had a two level ACDF Oct. of this year and have had swallowing issue since. I just know to keep a drink handy at all times because sometimes it is worse than other and I have to wash it down. I feel that it may be a bit better than right after surgery but it is still there, this was my 3rd cervical surgery and I'd never had this with the other two. Just one of many things to deal with after this type of surgery.
By Terri50  Dec 30, 2009
also, I don't have the natural curve in my neck either
By michandtro  Dec 29, 2009
Hi. I have acid reflux, had a stomache ulcer, gastroparesis, arthritis, ddd, 2 buldging discs in my neck that the doctor says are causing my swallowing issues. I have gone from not being able to swallow pills, to food, to liquids to my own saliva. This is unnerving and where I read that an endoscope won't find this, that is correct when it comes from disc problems, ddd, etc. When you have all these issues it's hard to figure out where the problem is coming from
By michandtro  Dec 29, 2009
ive had trouble swallowing for years and stomach issues. i also have ra along with sjogrens syndrome. my neck xrays mri showed that i have some narrowing and i have lost the curve in my neck. i also have bone spurs in my neck.could this be the reason i am having trouble swallowing and eating? i mostley drink fluids and try and stay away from certain foods but lately its getting worse and even my meds get stuck and i have to force swallow a few times before they actually go down. in the past the did find inflammation of my dududuom and a lot of acid when they did the gi test is all of this related? im 40 yrs old but these problems have been going on since i was like 35 and no one can put things together. i also have chest pains sometimes along with shoulder pain which sometimes my arm goes numb and cold and i have to shake it. ive had surgery done on both shoulders with numerous tears
By yvette101  Dec 16, 2009
I have a hiatal hernia and a bone spur on my cervical spine. And pain under my breast and back, back spasms, and a numb area that absolutely kills me at times. Sometimes my trap.muscle spasms like I'm being pinched or stabbed. I've also had trouble swallowing ever since I had my thyroid removed but a GI swallow (where they had me swallowing this big pill) showed no trouble. As a result, they don't believe me when I say sometimes I swallow water down the wrong way or I choke. This is intermittent, thank God.
By TessieMae  Dec 14, 2009
Oh, yes. I have DDD and have a "sore" throut, facial nerve outages and a rogue vegas nerve, affecting my heart and blood pressure. I did have neck surgery in 92 to remove a calcified styloid process, so scar tissue might be a factor and I am 56, so tis the time to get even more bony :-(. If only what happens to vegas would stay in vegas.
By Oaktree123  Nov 20, 2009
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