Considering neck surgery for a pinched nerve

After months of unsuccessful conservative treatment and persistent neck pain, patients with a cervical (upper) spine condition often turn to surgery in the hope of regaining quality of life. Many of the symptoms of a cervical spine condition are caused by a pinched nerve — with the goal of surgery being to remove the spinal anatomy putting pressure on the affected nerve.

While the prospect of pinched nerve surgery can be hopeful, there are many risks and difficulties involved with a surgical procedure. Having a full understanding of what can be involved with these procedures can help you make a more confident decision and offer you a better chance of getting the lasting relief you deserve.

What to know about pinched nerve surgery

If you have exhausted conservative treatment options and are being recommended for traditional open neck surgery, it is important to understand the following:

  • This is major surgery. Nerve decompression surgery is a major operation. Depending on the location of the compressed nerve, a surgeon will access the spine either through the front or back of the neck to remove the displaced anatomy. For example, if a herniated disc is causing the pinched nerve, physicians may remove the disc — in whole or in part — and fuse the affected vertebrae together with bone grafts and plates to stabilize the area.
  • As with any operation, there are risks. Postoperative complications such as infection and scar tissue buildup all need to be considered.
  • Recovery is lengthy. For the first several days after open neck surgery, the patient will sometimes need to be hospitalized for observation. After discharge, recovery at home can still take several weeks, depending on the procedure.
  • Rehabilitation is involved. In order to regain strength in the neck, intensive physical therapy will be required after a traditional open spine surgery. This typically begins as soon as the patient is feeling strong enough and it can continue for months.
  • It might not work. The reality of traditional open neck surgery is that there is a relatively high occurrence of failure. Failed back surgery syndrome occurs when the condition is misdiagnosed, insufficiently addressed or pain continues for other reasons related to the surgery.

Minimally invasive pinched nerve surgery

Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive spine surgery as a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck surgery.^ By using a less than 1-inch incision, our procedures offer a streamlined outpatient experience and less risk of complication.

If you are experiencing persistent neck pain and are considering various treatment options, contact Laser Spine Institute for a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.