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 relieve chronic symptoms, such as shooting neck pain, tingling, numbness or muscle weakness in the upper extremities. However, there is a reason that most physicians make a recommendation of neck surgery only as a last resort when treating common degenerative spine conditions. While traditional open neck surgery does offer possible 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 treatment methods. If you have already tried several weeks or months of conservative treatment for your cervical neck pain and you have not found any lasting pain relief, consider the tips outlined below 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 pain medications
  • Anti-inflammatory corticosteroid injections
  • Neck brace to stabilize the neck region and help reduce inflammation

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

Seek a second opinion before neck surgery

There is nothing wrong with seeking a second, or even a third, opinion before consenting to neck surgery. Most physicians welcome input from their friends or family, 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 necessary, contact Laser Spine Institute to determine whether a minimally invasive procedure may help your condition. Our minimally invasive surgery is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck surgery, and our patients are able to experience a shorter recovery time and a lower risk of complication.^

At Laser Spine Institute, we have helped more than 75,000 patients find lasting relief from their chronic neck or back conditions. For more information about the benefits of our minimally invasive procedures and when it is time to consider neck surgery, please reach out to our team. We are pleased to offer a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for our outpatient procedures.