Scripps Health: Neck Pain Causes and Treatment


The common ailments that plague people
in regard to their neck or their cervical spine are herniated discs which can
compress on a nerve and create arm pain or numbness or weakness. Not uncommonly,
as patients get older they may develop a narrowing of the spinal canal that can
compress on their spinal cord. That can create some more concerning types of
neurological problems. The most common conditions that patients
undergo surgery in their neck for are disc herniations which compress on a
nerve and cause arm pain. Another condition which is very similar would be
degenerative narrowing of the nerve space, either an individual nerve or the
spinal cord. The primary goal of these surgeries is to relieve the pressure
that is on the nerves or on the spinal cord. The primary
surgeries that we perform for neck problems, particularly disk herniations or
a narrowing of the nerve spaces, would include opening up that space, or what we
call a decompression, and the majority of the time, that’s followed by a fusion
because we have to rebuild what we’ve taken out. Many times, particularly in
younger patients, we’re able to do a replacement disc which allows continued
motion rather than performing a fusion. In terms of post-operative recovery from
neck surgery, people are up and walking the day of surgery or the day after.
Sometimes they may not even stay in the hospital. Long-term recovery may depend
on the exact procedure that’s done. If a patient doesn’t have a heavy labor type
of job, they could go back to work in a week or two as soon as they feel
comfortable doing so. People with more physical jobs, we would
want them out of work longer just for complete healing.

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