When it comes to any injury, including those to your neck, surgery should be your final option. There are plenty of more conservative treatment methods to treat pain and try to restore normal function to the neck. However, if you’ve worked through alternative options and find yourself at the bottom of the barrel and still in pain, it might be time to consider surgery. But this raises an important question: when is it necessary to get neck surgery?
In this article, the experts at Alliance Orthopedics will help you walk through the alternative methods to consider. We’ll also cover what happens if you reach the point where neck surgery is a necessity.
What Types of Injuries Lead to Neck Surgery?
When it comes to your neck, several different kinds of injuries can occur. From cervical spine bone breaks — more commonly known as a broken neck — to spinal cord compression, nerve compression, and degenerative disks, your neck plays a key role in your mobility and might need surgical care after an injury. However, except in the case of an emergency, you should certainly try alternative treatment options before considering a surgical route after you have ascertained when it is necessary to get neck surgery.
Alternative treatment options for neck pain include:
—Rest, as it can remove pressure from your neck and help you maintain a natural curve.
—Heat or ice therapy to increase blood circulation to the neck and lower inflammation, respectively.
—Pain and/or anti-inflammatory medication, which help relieve discomfort.
—Deep tissue massage, a variety of massage that utilizes deep stroke techniques to reach deeper layers of tissue and soothe chronic pain.
—Steroid injections, which will reduce neck pain and swelling
—Physical therapy, designed to improve your motion range, enhance your neck strength, and ease pain
—Activity modifications, such as improved posture and pain-relieving exercises.
When It’s Time to Consider Neck Surgery
If you’ve worked through the above treatments to no avail, it may be time to look at your surgical options to determine when it is necessary to get neck surgery. There is no set deadline by which your symptoms should have improved in order to necessitate surgery. Some medical professionals recommend trying alternative methods for up to six months before going the surgical route, while others advise attempting physical therapy for a minimum of six weeks first. Largely, your decision should depend on the severity of your condition as well as your pain tolerance.
If you’re having difficulty determining when it is necessary to get neck surgery, follow the advice and the treatment plan suggested by your healthcare provider, or reach out to Alliance Orthopedics if you need a consultation. Besides exhausting alternative methods, common signs that it’s time to look at surgery include:
—The development of progressive nerve damage, indicating that your condition is worsening instead of improving over time. You might be able to tell this is happening because of increased motor weakness.
—Signs indicating that your injury is putting pressure on your spinal cord, which should be remedied before it causes further damage.
—Degenerative disks causing neck pain that makes it difficult to live your regular life. These damaged disks might cause pain or numbness that limits your mobility and ability to perform normal activities.
—Pain and weakness in your neck may be the cause of cervical spinal stenosis, which occurs when the spinal canal narrows and becomes too small for your nerve roots and spinal cord.
Types of Neck Surgery Available
After you know when it is necessary to get neck surgery, there are numerous options surgeons can take to mend your neck, which will vary based on the particular ailment afflicting you. One such example is with a herniated disc replacement, where a surgeon will insert an artificial disc into your neck that won’t pinch your nerve roots. If a bone spur is the source of the pain for your nerves or spinal cord, then a posterior cervical foraminotomy surgery can remove any problematic bone spurs. Afterward, surgeons can perform a bone graft through surgical treatment that will replace the removed spur. In the case of cervical spinal stenosis, surgery is performed on both the front and back of your neck.
Several other options for neck surgery also exist, which you and your doctor can discuss together once you understand when it is necessary to get neck surgery.
What You Should Expect After Neck Surgery
After your surgery, you will likely have to stay at the hospital for a day or two. Though neck surgery will help remove discomforting pressure and pain, it will cause soreness for a few days following the procedure. Additionally, patients must follow the post-procedure instructions of their physician, such as taking the requisite medications to relieve pain or performing neck strengthening exercises.
Patients will have limited mobility after their neck surgery, the severity of which will vary based on the type of surgery in question. In most instances, patients will want to limit the movement of their neck as much as possible while moving the other parts of their body with more care than usual. As a result, strenuous activities, such as sports, can not be performed until a designated amount of time has passed. This recovery time will vary based on certain factors, like the age of the patient.
Contact Alliance Orthopedics for a Consultation Regarding Neck Surgery
Contact Alliance Orthopedics to find out if you might be a candidate for spine surgery. We can complete X-rays on-site as well as both surgical options, like Awake Spine Fusion and non-surgical options, including physical theray.
As an out-of-network provider, we offer exceptional care without the red tape. Give us a call or submit a contact form to schedule an appointment and take the first steps in creating a care plan tailored to you once you learn when it is necessary to get neck surgery.