Life can be a pain in the neck…literally. Humans weren’t meant to be hunched over a computer all day. We weren’t meant for the sedentary lifestyles most of us now lead. Plus, the cartilage in our joints has trouble keeping up with our ever-lengthening lifespans.
The seven vertebrae and surrounding muscles that make up our neck have a complicated job. They need to allow a complex range of motion, all the while supporting our head, which weighs 10-11 pounds. No wonder over 70 percent of people complain of neck pain at some point in their lives.
At Texas Neurosurgery, our board-certified neurosurgeons can perform various surgical procedures, including the latest minimally invasive methods to correct neck problems caused by nerve compression and degenerating cervical discs.
What are some common neck procedures?
Conditions that may require surgery are often the result of an injury or are due to age-related degenerative changes, such as osteoarthritis or degenerative disc disease. These injuries and degenerative changes can lead to herniated discs and to the formation of bone spurs in your neck vertebrae. Both of these can place pressure on your nerve roots exiting the spinal canal or on the spinal cord itself. This will lead to pain, numbness, or weakness in the neck or in the area served by the impacted nerves.
These are common surgeries we may perform on the neck at Texas Neurosurgery. This isn’t an exhaustive list:
- Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) — This is the most common surgery for neck pain. It is a procedure that removes a damaged disc in order to relieve the pressure on a nerve root or the spinal cord. This is often used when patients are having significant arm pain and possible weakness in a hand or their arm. This can lead to permanent nerve damage. This surgery is usually done with an incision in the front of the neck, which avoids the spinal cord, nerves, and the strong neck muscles. The herniated disc is removed. Bone, a cage, or other material is placed to maintain the spacing, and then bone graft material is placed throughout. The two vertebrae above and below the removed disc are then fixed in place with metal plates and screws. The bone graft material then grows around all of the materials and fuses the two vertebrae into a single piece.
- Decompression — Laminectomy is one decompression surgery where our surgeons enter through an incision made in the back above the affected vertebrae. Using minimally invasive techniques, small tools are used to remove the lamina, the boney arch on the back part of the vertebrae. This creates more room for the compressed spinal cord, which is usually being compressed by bone spurs that have developed due to degenerative disc disease. Patients needing this surgery usually have pain, weakness or numbness that radiates down into their arms.
- Similar to a laminectomy, a laminotomy removes only a portion of the lamina. In a laminoplasty, we address bone spurs and/or disc herniation by cutting through the lamina, but not removing any of it. This creates space in the spinal canal. Any bone spurs are removed, and small plates are attached to the lamina to enlarge the overall dimension of the spinal canal, relieving compression.
- Foraminotomy is another minimally invasive decompression procedure that aims to relieve nerve root compression that is occurring in the neuroforamina. These are the nerve passageways on the sides in the gap between the vertebrae. Bone spurs can form in the neuroforamina, pressing on the nerve roots and causing pain. We enter through the back, separating the muscles to reach the spine. We then remove the bone spurs and any other tissue in the neuroforamina, hence the name foraminotomy.
If you have chronic neck pain and other treatment options aren’t helping, please give the experts at Texas Neurosurgery a call at (214) 823-2052. We can examine what’s going on and get you past the pain.