When is neck surgery an option for treatment?

The decision to undergo neck surgery for a degenerative spine condition is never to be made lightly. An operation on the spine is often performed to alleviate extreme, debilitating, chronic symptoms, such as neck pain, shooting pain, tingling, numbness or severe muscle weakness in the upper extremities. However, there is a reason most physicians make a recommendation of neck surgery only as a last resort when attempting to treat common degenerative spine conditions. While traditional open neck surgery does offer the potential of pain relief, it is also associated with risks, such as infection, excessive blood loss and failed back surgery syndrome.

Many patients diagnosed with a degenerative spine condition will never find themselves faced with a decision about spine surgery because most mild spine conditions can be managed over time with a combination of conservative, nonsurgical treatment methods. If you have already tried several months of conservative treatment for your cervical neck pain and you have not found any lasting pain relief, consider these next few tips before proceeding with neck surgery.

Each nonsurgical approach is unique

Before neck surgery becomes an option for a degenerative spine condition, like a herniated disc or spinal osteoarthritis, nearly every patient will be advised to attempt symptom management using a regimen of conservative methods. These methods may include:

  • Exercise to strengthen the neck muscles and improve flexibility
  • Behavior modification training to improve posture while sitting, standing or sleeping
  • Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs or analgesics
  • Anti-inflammatory corticosteroid injections
  • Neck brace to stabilize the neck region and help reduce inflammation

Many conservative treatments can be combined to procedure better results for pain relief. You should always consult your physician before starting or changing any treatments for your neck pain. Your physician will help you determine the best treatment regimen for you based on your condition and medical history.
Seek a second opinion

There is nothing wrong with seeking a second — or even a third — opinion before consenting to neck surgery. Most physicians welcome input from their peers, and there is always a chance that something was misdiagnosed or that a potentially effective nonsurgical treatment method was overlooked.

If the original diagnosis and prognosis are confirmed and surgery becomes inevitable, contact Laser Spine Institute to determine whether a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure may help your condition. Our minimally invasive surgery is a safer and effective treatment option than traditional open neck surgery, and our patients experience a shorter recovery time^ than patients who choose traditional open neck surgery. For more information about the benefits of our minimally invasive procedures and when it is time to consider neck surgery, please contact our Care Team.