Neck surgery is often a last resort after other treatments (rest, OTC medications, prescription painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy) have failed to produce meaningful relief. Here are a few indicators it might be time to speak with a board-certified orthopedic surgeon about additional options.
Bulging discs that have ruptured or slipped within the cervical spine become a problem when those discs start placing pressure on nerves. Surgery (discectomy) is often necessary to relieve the pressure on the nerve roots.
Outgrowths of bones on one or more of the seven bones making up the cervical spine may reach a point where those outgrowths are placing pressure on adjacent nerves. If this is the case, surgery is often required to remove the growths.
Cervical Spinal Stenosis
A narrowing of the spinal column with the neck (cervical spinal stenosis) doesn’t always require surgery. It’s only when the compression results in chronic pain aggravated by everyday movement that surgery–usually spinal decompression surgery coupled with a fusion–becomes a necessity.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Often associated with age, degenerative disc disease is a condition caused by general wear and tear of the discs within the spine over time. Only when pain from worn discs in the neck becomes intolerable or unresponsive to medication does surgery become an option.
Neck injuries (sports-related injuries, whiplash, etc.) sometimes require surgery when pain is extreme or clearly resulting from pressure on nerves or damage to one of the bones of the neck. Surgery may also be required for older neck injuries that never properly healed.
Neck pain isn’t always relegated to the neck area. Compression on nerves in the neck, for example, may result in tingling and numbness extending to the arms and legs. If this is happening, it’s time to consider surgery to relieve nerve pressure. Nonspecific (simple) neck pain, the most common form of neck pain, normally doesn’t require surgery. The only exception is when such pain persists even after trying non-surgical remedies. The general deciding factor when it comes to spine surgery is self-determining how any pain or discomfort you may be experiencing is affecting your overall quality of life. If you experience chronic pain that has been unresponsive to conservative treatments, it’s likely time to speak with spine specialist about other options. For more information, call The Spine Institute in Beverly Hills at (310) 828-7757 and request an in-person consultation. Our team of experienced orthopedic spine surgeons can help you determine the treatment option best for your individual needs.