When is Neck Surgery Needed?
Surgery is not indicated in most types of neck pain.
However, surgery may be indicated in relieving symptoms, especially when it is related to a pinched nerve or the compression of a nerve leading to radicular pain. Surgery is usually not indicated for axial neck pain.
Indications of Needing Neck Surgery Include
- Spinal Cord Compression: For example, a vertebral fracture or herniated disc secondary to a trauma can cause spinal cord compression with serious neurological deficits and may need surgery.
- Excruciating pain not alleviated by conservative treatments: Such as rest, physical therapy, pharmacological treatment, modalities, and injections.
- Prolonged pain and/or weakness: Intractable radicular pain and neurologic changes, especially if they are progressive and interfere with quality of life often indicate surgical needs.
Additional Indications of Needing Neck Surgery
- Spinal Stenosis: Where there is a narrowing of the neuro foramen / neural passage – spinal canal may cause entrapment of nerve leading to persistent severe pain despite conservative management protocol.
- Instability: When the spine is unable to withstand physiological loads resulting in significant risk for neurological injury , progressive deformity , long standing pain and disability.
- Post traumatic cervical facet injuries
The type of surgical intervention is determined based on the patient’s needs, patient’s medical history, age, general physical condition, and occupation are considered before making a decision on surgical approach.