Cervical Spine Fusion
A cervical spine fusion is an operation that focuses on the seven vertebrae in the neck and upper back. Each of these vertebrae (except for the first two) is separated by a spongy intervertebral disc that absorbs shock, connects vertebral bodies and provides flexibility to the spine. However, over time, these discs can degenerate and cause chronic, debilitating neck pain that negatively affects your quality of life.
Conditions that can prompt cervical spine fusion
A variety of conditions prompt people to seek relief in the form of cervical spine fusion , including:
- Herniated discs
- Bulging discs
- Misaligned vertebrae
The above issues can infringe on surrounding cervical spinal nerves and cause symptoms like pain, tingling, numbness or weakness that remains stationary in the neck or radiates through the shoulders, arms and hands. Additionally, misaligned or fractured vertebrae, if not properly aligned and stabilized, can cause deformity, spinal cord injury or paralysis.
The process of cervical spine fusion
Traditional open spinal fusion begins with the surgeon making a fairly large incision in the front of the neck (anterior spinal fusion) or in the back of the neck (posterior fusion). Soft tissues, such as muscles, tendons and ligaments are either moved aside or cut, in which case they would be stitched back together after the procedure is complete. Next, the surgeon will perform a discectomy and remove the intervertebral disc that is damaged and causing neural compression. The vertebrae will then be spread open to make room for the bone grafts that will occupy the disc space. The fused section of the neck can then be further stabilized with implants. Most patients must wear a neck brace after the surgery.
Additional treatment options
For many patients, the massively invasive nature of open spine surgeries, like traditional fusion of the spine, can be so intimidating that they choose not to pursue treatment options beyond pain medication, ice packs or massage. However, Laser Spine Institute wants to let you know that there are alternatives to traditional open spine surgery. Our minimally invasive back decompression procedures have helped tens of thousands of people find relief from back pain. Contact us today to review your MRI or CT scan.