When to Consider Neck Surgery for Neck Pain

February 27, 2012

Neck pain can be caused by many different factors. Muscle strain, disc herniation, and facet joint disorders in the neck can all cause neck pain. Fortunately, in most cases neck pain can be cured with conservative medical treatment such as anti-inflammatory medication. But in some cases, neck surgery is needed to relieve the pain.

Treatment of neck pain

Treatment for neck pain generally starts with conservative treatment options such as pain medication. But if the pain persists or gets worse after 6 to 8 weeks of conservative treatment, neck surgery may be needed.

Techniques for neck surgical have advanced considerably in recent years. Minimally invasive endoscopic spine surgery has greatly improved the success rate and reduced the complication rate of neck surgery. Endoscopic cervical spinal surgery is particularly useful for treating neck pain caused by cervical disc herniations (disc herniations in the neck).

When to consider neck surgery

In general, neck surgery should be considered when a nerve in the neck or the spinal cord is compressed, inflammated, or irritated. If a nerve in the neck is compressed, conservative treatment alone generally will not be able to eliminate the pain. To achieve a long-lasting pain relief, surgical operation is needed to decompress the nerve.

Nerves and the spinal cord in the neck can be compressed by a number of factors, such as disc herniations, bone spurs, and spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal). Neck surgery decompresses the nerve and the spinal cord by removing the herniation and bone spur, and widening the spinal canal if necessary.

Neck surgery should also be considered if the neck pain is caused by bone fractures or spinal instability.

Neck surgery recovery

If you are considering neck surgery to relieve your persisting neck pain, you probably want to know what neck surgery recovery is like. There are many different neck surgery procedures (eg, open neck surgery and endoscopic cervical spine surgery) using very different surgical techniques. Neck surgery recovery following these procedures can vary significantly.

Take open neck surgery and endoscopic cervical spine surgery as an example. Open neck surgery is invasive, meaning considerable tissue damage and blood loss. The recovery of open neck surgery can take months, and it often requires a hospital stay right after the surgery. On the other hand, endoscopic cervical spine surgery is minimally invasive, meaning minimal tissue damage and minimal or no blood loss. The recovery of endoscopic cervical spine surgery generally takes only a few weeks, and it generally does not require a hospital stay.

For more information about the advantages of endoscopic cervical spine surgery and endoscopic spine surgery recovery, take a look at some of our frequently asked questions on the subject.