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Cervical Pain

Cervical Pain

Neck pain is usually due to the painful contraction of the muscles in the neck. This may be caused by a “Cervical Disc Herniation” or “Cervicoarthrosis”. These are the two most frequent conditions:

Cervical Disc Herniation

A cervical disc herniation is often a protrusion or extrusion of the disc nucleus in between cervical vertebrae. It may cause arm pain and numbness by compression of a cervical nerve root or it may even cause a serious condition called myelopathy if there is compression of the spinal cord.

The first option is the implantation of an Artificial Cervical Disc that imitates the natural function of the injured disc thus  preserving the functionality of the spine (neck). There are several types of cervical disc prosthesis on the market. The second option is a Cervical Spinal Fusion. This is reserved for cases where the disc herniation is associated with other biomechanical abnormalities of the cervical spine. Fusion and immobilization is achieved using intervertebral spinal cages followed by low profile cervical plates.

Cervicoarthrosis

Cervicoarthrosis is the most common cause of neck pain in patients over 40 years of age. The cervical disc allows for movement of the cervical vertebrae. Due to aging of the spine, there is dehydration and degeneration of the disc and the surrounding ligaments. Subsequently, there is an abnormal motion of the degenerated cervical disc leading to further degeneration of the ligaments and joints. There is overgrowth and ossification of these ligaments causing osteophytes that may compress the nerve roots or even the spinal cord (myelopathy). In this situation the patient may experience loss of strength and sensation on both arms/legs.

In almost all cases decompressive surgery is mandatory with extensive microsurgical drilling of the offending osteophytes, usually followed by a cervical fusion or arthrodesis. The procedure takes 1-1.5 hrs to perform for a single level and in the majority of cases patients go home the same day.