Will Surgery Improve Your Neck Pain or Make It Worse?
Surgery for chronic neck pain is a big decision. It can be costly, involves a lengthy recovery period, and there’s no guarantee that it will work. But it might be worth considering if you’re in pain and nothing else has worked.
If you’re wondering whether you should talk to your doctor about cervical spine surgery, this guide can help you make an informed decision. We’ll provide insight into some common underlying causes of neck pain that require surgery and ways to help you determine if cervical spine surgery is right for you.
Common Causes of Neck Pain That Might Require Surgery
Many different conditions can cause neck pain, but some of the more common ones that might require surgery are:
- Herniated disc: A herniated disc occurs when the gel-like center of a disc rupture and puts pressure on the spinal cord or a nerve. This can cause pain, numbness, and weakness in your arm or hand.
- Degenerative disc disease: This condition can occur as you age and the discs in your spine begin to break down. It can lead to pain and difficulty moving your neck.
- Osteoarthritis: This is a type of arthritis that causes the cartilage in your joints to break down. It can cause pain and stiffness in your neck.
However, it is essential to note that even if you are diagnosed with a condition that may eventually lead to surgery, there are often nonsurgical treatment options that can help relieve your pain and improve your quality of life. These should always be tried before considering surgery.
Determining Whether Cervical Spine Surgery Is Right for You
Surgery as a treatment for any ailment is a last resort. This is especially true regarding the spine, as the surgery can be very invasive and carries many risks.
Before recommending surgery, your doctor will likely try various conservative treatment options to help them rule out simple causes of your pain. These might include physical therapy, pain medication, epidural steroid injections, or chiropractic care. Surgery might be recommended if these treatments fail to provide relief after several months.
Your doctor will also consider the severity of your neck pain and whether it affects your quality of life. Surgery might be an option if your neck pain is severe and chronic, impacting your ability to work, sleep, or perform everyday activities.
In some cases, surgery might be recommended as a preventative measure. For example, if you have a herniated disc that is not causing any pain but is at risk of rupturing, your doctor might recommend surgery to avoid potential pain and nerve damage down the road.
Questions About Neck Pain Surgery to Ask Yourself & Your Doctor
If your doctor is recommending surgery for your neck pain, you must take the time to ask questions and understand all of your treatment options. Here are some questions to ask yourself and your doctor:
Is the Pain Affecting My Quality of Life in Detrimental Ways?
Is the pain getting worse, despite conservative treatment? How long have you been living with this pain? Identifying the impact of your discomfort on your life can help you and your doctor weighs the pros and cons of surgery.
What Is the Exact Cause of My Neck Pain?
If your doctor recommends surgery, they should be able to tell you the exact cause of your neck pain. If they are unsure, or if they are recommending surgery for a “catch-all” diagnosis like degenerative disc disease, it might be worth getting a second opinion.
What Are All of My Treatment Options?
Typically, a doctor recommends more traditional treatment options before surgery. If your doctor recommends surgery without trying other options first, be sure to ask about the potential treatment options available.
What Are the Risks and Potential Complications Associated with Surgery?
All surgeries come with risks and potential complications. Be sure to ask your doctor about the specific risks and complications associated with the type of surgery they recommend. Also, do your homework on measures to minimize the risk of complications.
What Is the Expected Recovery Time?
Recovery from cervical spine surgery can take several weeks or months. Underlying health issues can complicate your recovery time, and your doctor should be able to give you a general idea of what to expect. Remember that you must also do your part to ensure a successful recovery by following your doctor’s orders and attending all follow-up appointments.
What Are the Long-Term Risks and Potential Complications Associated with Surgery?
While neck pain surgery is generally considered safe, there are some risks and potential complications that can occur in the long term. Be sure to ask your doctor about these so that you can make an informed decision about your treatment.
What Is the Expected Outcome of Surgery?
Your doctor should be able to tell you what they expect your surgery’s outcome. In some cases, the goal of surgery is to relieve pain. In other cases, the goal might be to improve function or range of motion. If your and your doctor’s plans do not align, address any concerns you may have.
You’re Not Alone in This Decision with Orthopedic and Laser Spine Surgery of Florida
The decision to have neck pain surgery is a big one, and it’s not one that you should make lightly. There are a lot of factors to consider, and you must understand your options before making a decision. If you’re feeling neck pain surgery, the Orthopedic and Laser Spine Surgery of Florida team can help.
We specialize in minimally invasive spine surgery, and our goal is to provide patients with individualized care and treatment plans that fit their unique needs. So, whether you’re seeking a first or second opinion about neck pain surgery, send us a message or call us at (855) 853-6542 to learn more about our approach to neck pain surgery.