Surgery for a pinched nerve in the neck is actually a vital part of the treatment for this condition. Read this article to understand its causes and treatment methods.
The nerves in the neck area are often referred to as cervical nerves, which are a total of 8 in number. A pinched nerve in the neck occurs when one or more of these nerves gets trapped or compressed. This kind of repetitive pressure leads to inflammation and may even impair normal functioning. If you or your friend or relative has been diagnosed with this condition, then you must know all about its important aspects, including the surgery for a pinched nerve in the neck.
The most common cause is a bulging disc or herniated disc, where any cervical disc slips out of its original position and starts exerting pressure on the nerve in the surrounding area. An unwanted bony growth on the spine, known as neck spur, can also be responsible. A number of factors contribute towards this degeneration of the cervical spine, which includes spinal arthritis, aging, poor posture, repetitive use, tumor growth, and so on.
This condition gives a sharp, shooting pain, that often travels down to other areas like the shoulders, back, and arms. The pain felt in other parts of the body is known as referred pain. A sense of numbness and tingling is also experienced in these areas. Sometimes, the shoulders, arms, and wrists become weak, and one feels that the limbs have no strength at all. These symptoms tend to get aggravated with movements that strain the neck, like even turning the head.
This condition is diagnosed with the help of an MRI scan, nerve conduction test, etc. The main aim of treatment is to ease off the pressure from the affected nerve. For this reason, doctors first recommend to provide adequate amount of rest to the neck area. Avoid any such sitting or lying position that gives neck pain. Doctors also prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (or NSAIDs) for pain relief.
If there is too much of pain and stiffness, then cortisone injections are also administered. Doctors also recommend physical therapy. The physical therapists will suggest some effective exercises suitable for your condition. These exercises strengthen the neck muscles and make them flexible in order to ensure faster healing of the nerves. They will provide you with the right guidance to modify your activities in such a way that the pressure on the affected nerve is minimized.
When the underlying cause is either a herniated disk or bone spur, then these conservative methods of treatment may not give any relief. In many cases, the symptoms worsen with passage of time and may adversely affect movements of the shoulders, arms, and fingers. As a result, the patient fails to carry out normal life activities. In that case, surgery is performed for relief, and to prevent any further health complications.
This surgery is also known as cervical surgery. There are different forms of surgical techniques used for this purpose. The type of operation to be performed largely depends on the position and condition of the pinched nerve. Sometimes, the portion of the herniated disk, which is protruding out and exerting pressure on the nerve is surgically removed. Similarly, a part of the bony projection of a neck spur is removed by surgical means. In other cases, where the disc is in a badly damaged state, the entire disc may have to be removed. Then, the other cervical bones are fused together. Once the excess material is eliminated from the discs, the symptoms usually subside.
The surgery is followed by a rehabilitation program that facilitates for faster healing of the operated neck. During this time, a neck collar is given to the patient, which needs to be worn to provide adequate support to the neck. The patient may have to undergo physical therapy under the supervision of an experienced physical therapist in order to restore the strength and flexibility of the neck muscles.
Most cases of surgery are highly successful. Post surgery, a good posture and a healthy weight needs to be maintained to reduce unnecessary pressure on the neck, back, and shoulder region, to prevent any damage to the cervical spine and nerves.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.