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Neck surgery is any surgical operation that creates greater space in the neck vertebrae (cervical spine). The surgery relieves spinal cord and nerve root compression. Bulging or herniated discs, as well as spinal stenosis, can all cause neck pain (a condition in which the spaces in the neck vertebrae constrict due to degenerative changes in the spine).

Several diseases can cause pinching of the spinal cord or the spinal nerve roots. The main symptoms of neck impression include neck pain, tingling, numbness, weakness, and radiating pain in the arms and hands. If your symptoms do not improve after many weeks or months of conservative treatment,  your doctor may suggest surgery.

What is a Neck Surgery?

Neck surgery is a planned procedure that is typically suggested for severe or progressive nerve or spinal cord compression. Your doctor will likely advise you to start with conservative measures like medicines, cortisone injections, and physical therapy.

If your symptoms do not improve and continue negatively impacting your quality of life, making daily tasks difficult. In that case, surgery may assist in reducing the pain, numbness, weakness, and tingling you are experiencing.

Diagnostic imaging tests may be suggested to confirm the diagnosis that is causing your neck discomfort and other symptoms. These tests will help your doctor to see the anatomy of your cervical spine (in your neck) and help them determine the source of the problem. Among these tests are:

  • X-rays
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scans
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

What is the purpose of neck surgery?

Your doctor may propose neck surgery for prolonged neck pain and to repair physical cervical spine anomalies. Abnormalities in the Neck can produce pain and other symptoms in the head, shoulders, arm, or hand. The main aim of Neck surgery is to alleviate symptoms, bring stability to the spine, and improvise the quality of life.

 The following are some of the more common conditions that may necessitate neck surgery:

  • ·        Cervical spondylosis, a type of neck arthritis.
  • ·         Spurs on the bones
  • ·         Fracture of the cervical vertebrae
  • ·         Degenerative disc disease,a type of disc disease.
  • ·         Disc herniation, bulge, or rupture
  • ·         Cervical radiculopathy.
  • ·         Compression of the spinal cord, also known as cervical spondylotic myelopathy
  • ·         Spinal stenosis, or spinal column narrowing

Neck surgery for Radiculopathy/Myelopathy 

Disc protrusions in the neck area strain nerve roots or the spinal cord, resulting in radiculopathy. Radiculopathy, a medical name for neurological abnormalities, is caused by nerve and spinal cord pressure, such as finger weakness and numbness.

Cervical radiculopathy is a nerve root dysfunction caused by the damage or compression of a spinal nerve root in the neck. Cervical myelopathy is a compression of the spinal cord within the neck.

Cervical Radiculopathy/Myelopathy Causes

A variety of conditions can cause radiculopathy/myelopathy.

DegenerativeDisc Disease: A condition due to wear and tear on the discs between the vertebrae, leading them to lose their cushioning ability.

Spinal Stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal caused by degenerative arthritis.

If the cervical cord is compressed for too long a time, patient will develop myelomalacia ( subtle damage to the spinal cord) and in this situation, recovery following surgery will not be optimal.

Degenerative Spondylolisthesis: This condition is characterized by degeneration (wear and tear) of the vertebral components, which causes slippage of one vertebra onto another, resulting in spinal stenosis or a narrowing of the spinal canal.

What are the different surgical methods for neck surgery?

Neck surgery is advised to relieve the pressure on the spinal cord as it makes more room in the apertures of the cervical spine’s vertebrae. Following are the approaches that help you relieve pain.

  • Discectomy:   This technique helps remove a diseased disc between the spine’s vertebrae that may compress or pinch a nerve or spinal cord.
  • Laminectomy: In this technique, a section of vertebrae, also known as lamina, is removed to provide more room for the nerve roots and spinal cord.
  • Foraminotomy: This procedure is suggested to enlarge the holes in the vertebrae via which nerve roots escape the spinal cord.
  • Spinal fusion: A technique that involves fusing two or more vertebrae together to support a section of the spine.

What are the different risks associated with nurse surgery?

 Neck surgery may help you relieve chronic pain that may not have responded to different therapies. But there are many risks associated with the surgery done to the neck.  In some cases, symptoms may increase or persist following neck surgery.

Associated risks with neck surgery include:

  •     Infection
  •     Bleeding and blood clots
  •     Nerve damage
  •     Damage to the membrane that surrounds the spinal cord
  •     Remaining or returning symptoms
  •     Need for additional surgery

You need to discuss the various potential dangers associated with neck surgery with your doctor. This will help you evaluate whether it is an appropriate option based on age, present health status, and medical history.

How do you reduce your risk of complications that arise from neck surgery?

Risks of certain complications can be reduced by:

  • Following your doctor’s instructions on the dietary and lifestyle restrictions &       suggestions before the neck surgery and during the recovery period after the surgery.
  • Notifying your doctor immediately if you have any concerns such as fever, bleeding, or sudden increase in pain.
  • Taking all medications exactly as directed by your doctor.
  • ·Informing your doctor if you have any allergies.

If you are experiencing discomfort, numbness, stiffness, weakness, or other symptoms that are not improving, it is important to speak to a doctor to check if surgery might be the best course of action. 

Neck surgery is a complicated one, and many factors must be considered before you opt for surgery.  Finding the right surgeon for your needs is important and is worth the time.


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