Will neck surgery make my pain better or worse?
It’s a common question. In fact, there used to be a common adage that it’s wise to avoid spine surgery at all costs. This is ill-advised, of course, as there are—and long have been—situations in which surgery is the best option for relieving debilitating spine pain. Also, spine surgery has advanced considerably, resulting in a much better risk-to-benefit profile.
Yet, the question regarding surgery for neck pain remains an important one, and we hear it frequently.
Surgery will only provide effective relief for specific kinds of problems.
Whether or not surgery will improve your neck pain depends on several factors.
First and foremost, surgery of the spine involves risks. Like any surgery, those risks have to be weighed against the potential benefits of surgery. Surgery can be very effective at relieving neck pain (including radiating pain that originates in that part of the spine), but it isn’t recommended in most cases.
That’s because surgery to relieve neck pain is only recommended for severe, debilitating pain, and then only if there is an identified, correctible problem. This means two things:
- There must be a definitive diagnosis
- The problem diagnosed must be something that surgery can correct
Surgery for neck pain relief is an option of last resort.
Even with a diagnosis of a surgically correctible problem, surgery for neck pain is an option of last resort. It is only recommended after all other approaches to relieving pain have failed. If rest, medications and physical rehabilitation are ineffective at resolving or reducing your neck pain, and you’re a good candidate for surgery, then surgical intervention will be considered for a correctible problem.
Generally, surgery is only appropriate for neck pain linked to spinal instability or nerve compression. This includes:
- Pain caused by a pinched nerve root due to bone spurs or caused by a ruptured disc
- Pain caused by pressure on the spinal cord due to spinal stenosis
- Pain caused by pinched nerves due to vertebral grinding as a result of degenerative disc disease
Maximize your chances for pain relief with appropriate surgical expertise.
As mentioned, there is always risk associated with surgery, including risk of additional pain. The goal—the key—is to maximize your odds for effective pain relief.
So, surgery to relieve neck pain is only appropriate—and will only relieve pain—when it’s a correctible problem, after all other options have failed, and if you’re a good candidate. In addition, the outcome of spine surgery is highly dependent on the skill of the surgeon. With nerve compression and spinal stability as the problems appropriate for surgery, seriously consider that only neurosurgical spine surgeons are fully trained in nerve-related surgery and are the only surgeons able to perform the complete array of spine surgeries.
If you’re experiencing debilitating neck pain or upper-extremity pain related to the cervical spine, relief is possible, up to or including surgical solutions. Contact Neurosurgery & Spine Consultants for expert evaluation, diagnosis and, if needed, experienced neck surgery in San Antoniowith minimal risk and optimal outcomes. Call 210-255-8953today.