Cervical spine surgery is a very scary proposition for any patient and for very good reason. The neck is a vital area filled with some of the most important tissues in the body, including vascular, glandular and neurological structures. Any operation here provides some degree of threat to these structures and therefore, the very life of the patient. Neck surgery is never something to undergo casually.
Injuries and advanced degenerative neck pain conditions might necessitate surgical correction in some unfortunate patients. However, a great number of patients who choose neck surgery really do not require it and a few might even be contraindicated due to a lack of definitive evidence of what is sourcing their pain. This does not stop surgeons from operating regardless. Remember, many neck pain conditions are mistakenly diagnosed, leading to frivolous surgeries which sometimes injure more than assist.
Due to the small and delicate structure of the cervical vertebrae, as well as the extreme sensitivity of the spinal cord, neck surgery must be a very precise operation. When it comes to surgical correction of any spinal abnormality in the neck, a patient should learn all the facts, risks and possible complications, before agreeing to proceed with the proposed procedure.
The specific type of procedure used will be determined by the condition to be treated. Neck surgery is commonly performed to correct severe injury due to trauma or to fix disc, arthritis, facet joint or stenosis conditions. As with all operations, achieving a correct diagnosis is very important to insure good surgical results. In addition, it is wise to shop around for a spine surgeon with extensive experience in the prescribed procedure.
Know also that most diagnosed conditions can be treated with several different approaches to surgical care. It is very common for surgeons to advise a particular procedure (the one they offer) and not even inform a patient that they have other options. It is for this reason that patients must ask about other choices and are strongly advised to seek multiple surgical opinions before deciding on the best procedure for their needs.
Besides the normal risks associated with all surgeries, neck operations have a higher incidence of spinal cord or spinal nerve damage complications. The neck is a smaller area to operate on and the surgeon must be very accurate with all surgical processes. Even a small deviation from the desired result can create disastrous consequences for the patient.
Make sure to discuss all general and procedure specific risks with your surgeon so that you can make a truly informed choice on whether surgery is right for you. Never let any care provider rush you into surgery, unless the circumstances are an actual emergency scenario.
If a particular care provider seems to make light of the risks of any procedure, or tries to make you feel silly for even asking about the risk factors, it is time to find a new doctor. Find a real doctor who will be honest with you and not some thief who obviously is out of touch with reality and may be more interested in your money than your safety or life.
A good surgeon will no doubt do everything in their power to insure a positive surgical result. No ethical doctor wants to fail their patient, but surgical results for back pain are mediocre at best. In order to help your doctor to help you, make sure to prepare yourself for surgery with a few easy steps.
First, make sure that your diagnosis is correct. Surgery directed at an incorrectly identified condition will have no chance of succeeding.
Next, get yourself in good mental and physical shape before the operation.
Last, but not least, have a positive attitude and confidence that the operation will cure your pain. Never underestimate the power of the mind to create or cure pain syndromes.
Cervical spine surgery is indeed a tough choice, but following these few guidelines can help you to reach your ultimate goal of a pain-free future. Good luck!