When is a Cervical Fusion Surgery Performed?

woman with neck painMost neck pain can be treated without the need for an operation, but in some cases, surgery may be needed.

In this blog, Dr. Steven Schiebert of New Jersey Spine Surgeons will explain what cervical fusion surgery is and when it’s performed.

What is cervical fusion surgery?

Cervical fusion surgery joins together selected bones in the cervical area of the spine (the neck). It’s needed when two vertebrae grind against each other, causing pain and/or instability.

This type of surgery involves the placement of a bone graft between the two vertebrae to create a solid union and alleviate symptoms of pain or weakness.

When is it performed?

Cervical fusion surgery is considered when more conservative treatments – such as medicine, rest, physical therapy and pain management – have failed to provide enough relief.

It’s sometimes recommended to treat the following conditions:

  • Degenerative disc disease – this isn’t actually a disease but rather normal changes that can occur in discs as you age. It can cause vertebrae to grind together and nerves to become pinched.
  • Herniated disc – when the disc’s inner core leaks out and presses on an adjacent nerve root, causing pain and possibly weakness that can radiate down the arm and into the fingertips. Since there’s not a lot of space available for the nerves, even a small hernia in a cervical disc can press on a nerve and cause a good bit of pain.
  • Bulging disc – occurs when the outer layer of a disc bulges out for at least a quarter of the disc’s circumference, which can irritate nerve roots
  • Slipped disc – a spinal disorder in which a vertebra slips out of place and onto the vertebra below it
  • Pinched nerve – pressure on a nerve caused by surrounding bones, muscles, tendons, or tissues, causing pain, tingling, or numbness
  • Spinal stenosis – pressure on the spinal cord caused by bone spurs
  • Foraminal stenosis – a narrowing of the small openings between vertebrae
  • Spinal deformities
  • Broken vertebrae

What is involved?

This type of surgery is only considered when options such as medication, rest, physical therapy and pain management services have failed to provide relief.

The goal of the surgery is to join one or more vertebrae together in a solid union so that there’s no longer movement between them. An implant will be placed to provide structural support.

Your surgeon will make an incision and use special tools to remove your damaged disc. The space will be prepared for fusion, as your doctor makes sure there’s enough room to avoid pressure on the nerves. He or she will then place an implant into the space to provide structural support and fill the space with bone graft material. Much as your body heals a fracture, it will heal the graft over the next several months. The vertebrae will then be joined – or fused – together.

Finally, your surgeon will insert hardware to help provide further stability.

Where can I get the surgery performed?

Dr. Steven Schiebert of New Jersey Spine Surgeons is a fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon who specializes in spine surgery. He has extensive experience and knowledge in this area and is dedicated to helping his patients achieve relief from pain as well as preserving motion and function.

He recommends conservative treatments whenever possible, and when surgery is needed, he uses the most minimally invasive procedures available. Dr. Schiebert is dedicated to providing compassionate care delivered with the highest level of technical expertise.

If you’re experiencing pain or weakness in your neck or arm, make an appointment today with New Jersey Spine Surgeons. We’ll diagnose the source of your discomfort and will recommend the most conservative treatments possible to achieve the results you need.

Thank you. We will get back to you as soon as possible.