Often, upper back and neck pain are caused by herniated cervical discs that are causing one or more nerves to not work properly. Discs are cushions between the bones in the neck and spine that, due to illness or injury, sometimes herniate (bulge out) and push against nerves, resulting in severe, sometime debilitating pain.
Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion is the most common procedure prescribed for cervical nerve problems causing pain. Anterior means that the procedure is performed entering the front of the neck to reach the problem disc which is removed. The space previously occupied by the disc is replaced with a bone graft. The two vertebrae (spinal bones) adjacent to the removed disc are fused together to stop the pain-causing motion between the diseased or injured vertebrae.
- The surgery is performed under general anesthesia.
- After the procedure, the surgeon and recovery room nurse will usually ask the patient to get up and walk around as soon as the anesthesia wears off.
- Most patients go home the day of surgery.
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks. Patients should carefully discuss their individual medical conditions with their physician before undergoing any spinal surgery.