Cervical Spine Surgery
Your back and neck are the cornerstones for your activity, mobility and everyday life. Chronic or severe neck pain can drastically impact your ability to maintain your lifestyle but many Canadians are left to deal with it. Even with a diagnosis, it can be difficult to understand what the next steps are, particularly from a surgical perspective.
Understanding the Cervical Spine
From a scientific or engineering perspective, the cervical spine is an incredibly impressive part of the body. Comprised of 7 stacked cervical vertebrae, and cervical discs between them, the spine provides the ability to swivel and move, as well as absorb impacts and allow the neck to move freely.
With age, it is common for there to be some cervical disc degeneration, much the same way that you might expect some issues with a hip joint during advanced age. Just as hip and knee issues can limit the ability to interact with the world in the usual way, neck issues can be debilitating.
Over time, the height of cervical discs begin to collapse and bulge, and this can lead to loss of space between discs. When disc space becomes too narrow, vertebrae can press on the spinal cord or spinal nerve root, leading to physical pain or other side effects, such as:
• Neck Pain and Stiffness
• Headaches or Migraines
• Numbness and/or Weakness in extremities
• Pain that travels down through shoulders and arms
Instead of simply living with pain and sacrificing quality of life, more and more Canadians are speaking to their doctors or orthopaedic surgeons about a surgical approach to solve these issues.
Cervical Disc Replacement Surgery: Who Needs It?
As with many other conditions, a surgical approach should be a last resort, when non-surgical treatments have already been explored. If you are experiencing pain through the lumbar spine or are experiencing a damaged joint following trauma, physical therapy might provide accessible relief but there are certain circumstances where a surgical approach is necessary:
Degenerative Disease/Cervical Disc Disease: Basic screenings, such as an MRI or CT scan can demonstrate issues within the soft tissue, as well as bone. If these scans demonstrate damage or degeneration to nerve roots, discs or the spinal cord, it is possible to trace pain and discomfort that cannot be repaired with physical therapy or exercise. Those exhibiting these symptoms are good candidates for arthroplasty, or CDRS.
Radicular Pain: Unlike the feeling of standard pins and needles, issues arising from cervical discs, namely compression in the spinal cord, can lead to feelings of intense, stabbing pain, as well as tingling, numbness or weakness. Pain and other symptoms may be experienced anywhere below the site of compression and can spread to extremities, leading to issues with coordination, and other neurological issues, such as weakness and difficulty with bladder control.
Non-Surgical Methods Have Been Attempted: Sore muscles or injuries are often treated with a mix of rest, ice, heat, stretching, physical therapy, pain medications, or even injectables. While it is important to try these methods before reaching out to a surgeon, they are not right for everyone. If symptoms persist for a period of 4-6 weeks, it is time to consider a surgical approach for lasting pain relief.
The Advantages of Cervical Disc Replacement Surgery
Unlike spinal fusion surgery, which restricts unwelcome shifts or pinching with the placement of a bone graft, replacing a damaged disc allows for increased mobility at the spinal level. Artificial cervical discs are designed to mimic function of a natural disc, preserving function. While this process can preserve a range of motion, it does not claim to increase it. Replacing an affected disc can not only help to retain motion but help to eliminate previously stated symptoms, such as arm pain, weakness in extremities and tingling.
With growing demand for anterior cervical artificial disc replacement, many patients will be left waiting for an opportunity. Throughout British Columbia, the average wait time depends on the type of symptoms experienced by a patient and can ultimately mean months, if not years of waiting. Venture Medical has partnered with a team of doctors and professional with the goal of making surgical care accessible to those who are willing to pay out of pocket or are willing to travel to seek surgical care.
Please contact us to learn more about Cervical Spine Surgery.