Performed to either relieve nerve pressure or restore stability to the seven bones of the spine that make up the neck, cervical spine surgery is often an elective procedure unless there is a pressing medical need. Knowing what to expect with cervical spine surgery can provide some much-appreciated peace of mind. Such knowledge can also help you decide what questions to ask your surgeon.
Front and Back Approaches
The affected area of the neck can either be reached from the back (posterior) or front (anterior) area. Surgery from the front is often preferred to avoid trauma to surrounding muscles and reduce recovery time and complications, although the way the cervical spine is approached will depend on the specific location of the affected disc, vertebra, or joint.
Preparing for Cervical Spine Surgery
Surgery won’t become an option unless a specific mechanical problem with your cervical spine is identified. Quality of life is usually the deciding factor when it comes to deciding if surgery is the right option.
Anterior cervical discectomy, where the problem disc is removed, is one of the most common types of neck surgeries performed on the cervical spine. Fusion surgery is usually performed after the disc is removed to stabilize the spine.
A microdiscectomy is a minimally invasive version of a discectomy performed with smaller incisions. Special instruments and a tiny camera are used to guide the surgeon to the affected area of the cervical spine.
Artificial Disc Replacement
Artificial disc replacement (ARD) surgery is an alternative to fusion surgery. The problem disc is removed and replaced with an artificial one to maintain stability while still retaining range of motion.
Life After Cervical Spine Surgery
Recovery can take anywhere from several weeks to months, depending on the procedure that was performed. A brace is usually worn to limit movement as the neck heals.
If cervical spine surgery isn’t absolutely necessary, take time to consider other non-surgical options, including some, like acupuncture, that are still considered out of the mainstream. There’s also nothing wrong with seeking other opinions before deciding on surgery. Most reputable surgeons will be fine with this.
For a second opinion or more information on cervical spine surgery, reach out to Dr. Bae and his experienced team of Los Angeles spine surgeons. We can diagnose the root of your pain and help you decide on the treatment option right for your condition and lifestyle. Call (310) 828-7757 today and schedule an in-person consultation.