Neck (Cervical) Pain Cervical Microdiscectomy

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Microdiscectomy as a Neck Pain Treatment

The purpose of a minimally invasive cervical microdiscectomy as a neck pain treatment is to decompress the affected nerves in the cervical spine or to remove a herniated disc or disc fragment. With new technology, this surgery can be performed endoscopically, allowing for a much smaller incision and decreased disruption of muscles and tissue, resulting in a quicker recovery time.

Neck Pain Treatments – Microdiscectomy

The use of cervical microdiscectomy as a neck pain treatment may be preferable for those who require removal of only a portion of a herniated or diseased disc. During the operation, the herniated disc fragment is removed from the nerve and the small incision is closed.

Is Cervical Microdiscectomy the Right Neck Pain Treatment for You?

Discectomy is used to alleviate symptoms of a herniated disc. A disc herniation happens when the nucleus inside the center of the disc pushes through the annulus, the ligaments surrounding the nucleus. The herniated disc material may push outward, causing pain. Numbness or weakness in the arm occurs when the nucleus pushes on the spinal nerve root. Of greater concern is a condition in which the nucleus herniates straight backward into the spinal cord, called a central herniation. Discectomy relieves pressure on the ligaments, nerves, or spinal cord.

Discectomy is also commonly used when the surgeon plans to fuse the bones of two neck vertebrae into one solid bone. Most surgeons will take the disc out and replace the empty space with a block of bone graft, a procedure called cervical fusion.

Discectomy alone is usually only used for younger patients (20 to 45 years old) whose symptoms are from herniation of the disc. But some surgeons think discectomy should always be combined with fusion of the bones above and below. They are concerned that the empty space where the disc was removed may eventually collapse and fill in with bone. Inserting a bone block during fusion surgery helps keep pressure off the spinal nerves because the graft widens the neural foramina. The neural foramina are openings on each side of the vertebrae where nerves exit the spinal canal. Most research on discectomy by itself shows good short-term benefits compared to discectomy with fusion. But more information is needed about whether the long-term results are equally as good.

If you struggle with chronic neck pain or have started to experience pain in the limbs along with neck pain, speak with your spinal healthcare provider immediately.

At a Glance: Cervical Microdiscectomy as a Neck Pain Treatment

  • A surgical treatment that decompresses affected nerves in the neck, or cervical spine.
  • Not suitable for all patients but preferred by some physicians because it does not remove the entire cervical disc.
  • This surgery provides for a shorter recovery time and is much less invasive than traditional approaches to a cervical discectomy.

Health Tips for Microdiscectomy

  • It is not always possible to prevent bone spurs or to completely avoid herniated discs.
  • Discuss the benefits and potential risks of cervical microdiscectomy with an expert spine surgeon.
  • Whenever possible, perform some gentle neck muscle exercises as they can help keep the neck limber and healthy.
  • Consider the use of a cervical pillow for support and comfort.

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