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.

Orthopedic Doctor Dr. Rahman is a fellowship trained, practicing Physiatrist and Pain Management specialist and partner at Westchester Sport and Spine. Dr. Rahman has subspecialty training in Musculoskeletal and Interventional Pain Medicine and focuses on conservative, non-invasive treatments for most conditions.