Cervical disc surgery is usually considered when neck pain has become too much to bear and cannot be managed by conservative treatments. Ultimately, the cervical (upper) spine has two main jobs: to support the skull and provide flexibility and twisting ability in the neck. However, these two jobs also make the cervical spine particularly susceptible to injury, pain, and discomfort. As a result, neck pain is an all-too-common source of frustration for many people.
The cervical spine is comprised of seven small vertebrae in the neck, known as C1-C7. These small bones bear the burden and stress of supporting the head, while also allowing a remarkable range of motion along three axes. Cervical disc surgery can become necessary when deterioration impedes the regular function of the neck. For example, an individual may experience neck pain from a herniated disc. This occurs when one of the soft, spongy intervertebral discs that keep the vertebrae from rubbing together becomes ruptured and swells out of its normal resting place. When this happens, the problematic disc may come into contact with a nerve root as it branches off the spinal cord, resulting in a pinched, compressed, or impinged nerve.
If the following herniated disc symptoms persist for months, then disc surgery may be recommended by your physician:
- Severe, chronic neck pain
- Muscle weakness in the shoulders or elbows
- Tingling or numbness in the arms, wrists, or hands
- Pain radiating along the nerve
Cervical disc surgery will not “cure” a bulging or herniated disc. Instead, the goal of surgery is to remove damaged disc material, and in the process, remove the source of the discomfort. In the case of a herniated disc, a spinal surgeon will remove part of (or the entire) disc to decompress the nerve and hopefully alleviate the symptoms.
Traditionally, cervical disc surgery has meant hospitalization and a long rehabilitation. However, the staff at Laser Spine Institute (LSI) offers an alternative: endoscopic spine surgery. Our minimally invasive, outpatient orthopedic procedures can provide meaningful relief without many of the downsides of open neck surgery. To learn more, and to receive a free review of your MRI or CT scan, contact LSI today.