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Curious about the 3 Reasons Why Surgery May Be Your Best Option for Neck Pain?

Looking for a Raleigh neurosurgeon to determine whether your neck pain requires neck surgery? You’re not alone, neck pain affects at least 45% of the working population. Pain and discomfort in the body is a normal part of the aging process. But when it starts to interfere with your daily activities, then it’s time to see a specialist.

The neck is made for movement, but between twisting, bending and rotating, the cervical (neck) spine can degenerate or become damaged. One of two things can happen: either the fluid in the spinal discs is reduced, which affects flexibility, or the outer layer of the disc becomes torn, causing a bulging or herniated disc which may become ruptured.

The types of pain that can be experienced range from weakness, numbness, or shooting pain felt in the neck or arms. While neck pain affects a large portion of the population, not all cases of pain progress to a problem. If your case becomes severe or lasts for an extended period of time, treatment may be necessary.

Surgery-Free Alternatives for Treating Neck Pain

Surgery is considered only after all other methods have been exhausted. Conservative treatment options include:

  • Rest
  • Heat/ice therapy
  • Medication (anti-inflammatory medication, pain medication)
  • Massage
  • Physical therapy
  • Activity modifications
  • Chiropractic care

When is Neck Surgery Necessary?

The following are signs that your neck pain likely needs surgery. Of course, the only way to truly determine if surgery is necessary is to consult with a neurosurgeon. A physician who specializes in neurosurgery (a combination of neurology and surgical treatment) can speak with you about your pain level and conduct tests to analyze your unique situation.

1) If you have tried conservative treatment options and symptoms did not subside. The amount of time that an individual should try non-surgical treatments depends on that individual’s pain tolerance and personal interest in pursuing surgery. Some medical professionals recommend trying non-surgical options for 2-6 months, while others recommend options like physical therapy for 6 weeks. Patients must weigh the sacrifices made in their daily lives with the benefit of pain relief when contemplating surgery. Sometimes severe or chronic neck pain is only relieved with surgery.

2) You develop signs of progressive nerve damage. In other words, nerve damage has worsened or muscles are weakened. Because cervical neck surgery pertains to a complex and crucial area of the body, including the spine and spinal cord linking to the brain, it is important to monitor damage.

3) There is pressure on the spinal cord. This can be determined with tests, such as the MRI, CAT scan, Myelogram, or EMG test. The Raleigh Neurosurgeons at Raleigh Neurosurgical Clinic will likely recommend surgery if the cause of pain is clearly determined through multiple tests that correlate with the sensation of pain.

What is Cervical Spine Surgery?

If you or your doctor have decided that surgery is the best option to relieve your neck pain, you may be wondering exactly what surgery would entail. There are a variety of cervical spine surgeries, depending on your specific cause of pain.

If your pain is caused by a troublesome disc, the surgeon can remove the disc though a discectomy procedure. If pain is caused by abnormal bone growth, bone spurs can be removed as well. If surgery was performed on the anterior (front), your neck may need to be stabilized with fusion surgery.

Recovery from Neck Surgery

Those who have to have neck surgery usually have a lot of questions— and one of the first is usually “how long does it take to recover from neck surgery?”. The reality is, there’s no one-size-fits-all recovery schedule.

The neck is an incredibly complex and sensitive part of your body, so your recovery from neck surgery may look different based on your body, type of surgery performed, and more. While this may cause anxiety in some patients, you should be able to experience a full recovery as long as you follow the instructions provided by your neurosurgeon.

Neurosurgeon for Neck Pain

To receive personalized and in-depth answers to your questions about cervical surgery for neck pain, schedule a consultation with one of our highly-experienced and compassionate neurosurgical specialists. Raleigh Neurosurgical Clinic is the Triangle’s most experienced minimally invasive neurosurgical practice and is also the area’s only independently owned neurosurgical group. To learn more about the spinal conditions that we treat, contact us at our Raleigh, NC office.