When to consider neck surgery

Surgery for the neck often refers to procedures that focus on the cervical (upper) region of the spine. Because the neck must support the head while still allowing for basic movement, everyday activities can become extremely painful if the vertebrae, spinal discs or a facet joint is damaged and puts pressure on surrounding nerves. However, surgery for the neck should be considered only after several months of conservative treatment has been attempted.

Learning more about the conditions that are the underlying cause of neck pain as well as the full range of procedures available is an important part of finding out when to consider neck surgery.

Conditions that require surgery for neck pain

Neck pain is very common and is often caused by a minor muscle strain or ligament sprain that will usually resolve in a short period of time. More serious and chronic pain is likely to be the result of a degenerative spine condition affecting the cervical spine. These conditions can include:

  • Herniated disc. The outer wall of a disc ruptures and extrudes inner disc material into the spinal canal.
  • Bulging disc. A weakened disc protrudes beyond its normal boundary and presses on spinal nerves.
  • Osteoarthritis. A degenerative condition of the spinal facet joints, it can cause osteophytes, or bone spurs, to form and compress the spinal nerves.
  • Bone spurs. These are bone growths that can cause the spinal canal or nerve exits to narrow.

Types of cervical spine surgery

If, after a course of conservative treatments like physical therapy, lifestyle changes and pain medication you are still unable to effectively manage your neck pain, surgery may become a serious consideration. There are several types of neck surgeries for you to consider, but it is important to find out about the level of invasiveness involved for any procedures you are recommended. A minimally invasive surgery on the neck involves a small incision and techniques that allow muscles to be gently moved aside during the procedure. In contrast, a traditional open spine surgery usually involves muscle trauma, a large incision, hospitalization and a lengthy recovery period.

Laser Spine Institute

Since 2005 the board-certified surgeons+ at Laser Spine Institute have helped more than 60,000 patients find relief from neck and back pain. Contact us today for a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan* to find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.