Your upper spine, more commonly known as your neck area, consists of a series of cervical vertebrae that connect your spine to your skull. These vertebrae and connected spinal roots nerves provide a significant nerve supply to your head, neck, shoulders and upper arms. They’re crucial to ensuring that your brain and spine can communicate clearly and keep your body doing what it’s supposed to. When these nerve structures are pinched or compressed, it can cause serious pain and also limit your hand and arm movements.
The solution to this problem? A posterior cervical discectomy. Don’t let the scientific language overwhelm you: We’ll break down — in simple terms — what this procedure entails, who’s eligible for it and what recovery treatment looks like.
What Does a Posterior Cervical Discectomy Entail?
A posterior cervical discectomy is a surgical procedure designed to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots. This goal is accomplished by removing the broken or bulging portion of the vertebral disc that’s putting pressure on the spinal nerves and is the cause of pain. It’s typically a minimally invasive surgery using specialized miniature surgical instruments and tiny incisions, so when it’s performed successfully, it requires only a mild recovery.
During the procedure itself, the surgeon will make a small incision on the back of the neck through which surgical instruments will be inserted and used to remove a small amount of bone pressing on the herniated disc or nerve. Once it’s decompressed, your incision will be closed using sutures, and your discectomy will be finished.
When Is It Time to Consider This Treatment Option?
If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, it may be time to talk to your doctor about a possible posterior cervical discectomy. While chronic pain can feel like a life sentence, with today’s advanced medical tools and procedures, it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Reach out to a medical professional if the following symptoms sound familiar:
- Residual neck, shoulder or arm pain
- Swollen discs
- Throbbing or radiating pain in the hands, fingers or arms
- Recurrent bone damage caused by injury or conditions like arthritis
- Weakness and limited range of motion in your neck
- Diagnosed spinal disorders like degenerative disc disease or spinal stenosis
Effects of a Posterior Cervical Discectomy
A posterior cervical discectomy is often very successful at relieving pain and weakness caused by a herniated disc or compressed spinal nerve. Because of its minimally invasive nature, you’ll experience a shorter surgery with less damage or effect to surrounding tissue. You’ll also likely have a shorter and simpler recovery time along with less post-op pain.
The immediate and long-term effects in successful cases include reduced pain and stiffness as well as increased arm strength and range of motion. Following the surgery, you’ll be advised to follow a post-operative care routine including:
- Plenty of rest
- Pain medications and antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor
- No driving, rigorous exercise or neck-straining activities
- A soft cervical collar to protect your neck
- Physiotherapy as recommended by your doctor
Make an Appointment With Us to Learn More About a Posterior Cervical Discectomy
Alliance Orthopedics is a unique multidisciplinary practice offering exceptional care and tailored treatment plans. We’ll listen to your full story to dig deep into the cause of your pain or injury and suggest hands-on treatment, including pain management, surgery and physical therapy. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help care for your pinched or compressed nerves, schedule an appointment with Alliance Orthopedics today!