Cervical spine disorders are a problem for many adults. The cervical spine gives us the ability to perform functions like head turning, tilting as also absorbing any impact and protecting the spinal cord and nerve roots that pass through it. Cervical Spine Disorders are illnesses that are relatively detrimental to ones physical health.
These ailments exist in the cervical spine which is made up of the upper first seven vertebrae, encasing and shielding the Spinal cord. This fragment of the spine starts from the region above the shoulder blades and ends by supporting and connecting the Skull.
The cervical spine has a lordotic curve, a backward “C” shaped just like the lumbar spine. The cervical spine is much more mobile than both of the other spinal regions. The cervical spine contains many different anatomic compositions, including muscles, bones, ligaments, and joints. If the cervical spine is injured it can result in many minor or major traumatic problems which are collectively called “cervical spine disorders”.
- Neck Pains
- Arm Pains
- Difficulty in walking
Non-operative treatment continues to play an important role in treating these patients, with medications, therapy and interventional pain injections playing increasing roles in treatment. Surgical treatment including anterior and posterior decompression and fusion have been effective treatments of many cervical disorders, but may lead to significant problems including adjacent level disease.
1. Anterior Cervical Discectomy:
The cervical spine is reached from the front of the neck and is the preferred choice of surgeons as it is easier to reach. This procedure is done to relieve pressure on the nerve roots which may be one or many. A small horizontal incision is cleverly made in the crease of the skin, when a single disc is to be removed. In case of more extensive surgery, the incision will be longer or slanted. After the requisite incisions the soft tissues are separated after which the inter-vertebral disc and bone spurs are removed.
Removal of disc or bone spurs will leave gaps or spaces which may be left open or filled with a small piece of bone or device through spinal fusion.
This procedure is most often used in cases of multilevel cervical stenosis with spinal cord compression due to bone spur formations.
2. Cervical Traction:
In this procedure the surgeon will remove a part of the vertebral body which relieves the pressure on the spinal cord. This procedure is done together with anterior cervical discectomy. The incision is larger as one or more vertebral bodies may be removed along with the adjoining discs. Using spinal fusion the space between vertebral is filled using small piece of bone or device. Since the surgery is bigger the recovery period is much longer as compared to anterior cervical discectomy. To help or speed up the healing process a metal plate may be screwed into the front of the vertebrae.
3. Posterior Microdiscectomy:
As the name suggests, this surgery or procedure is done through an incision made at the back of the neck usually in the middle. This procedure is done in cases where the disc herniation is large and is located on the side of the spinal cord. A high speed burr is used to remove some of the facet joint. This reveals the nerve root under the facet joint and is gently moved aside to free up as well as aid in removing the disc herniation.
4. Posterior Cervical Laminectomy:
Under this procedure a small incision is made in the middle of the neck to remove the back bony part of the vertebrae also called lamina. The removal of the bone creates space and allows movement of thickened ligament, bone spur formation or disc material which may be pressurizing the spinal cord or the nerve roots. To allow the nerves to pass through the spinal passage in the vertebrae, the formen may also be enlarged.
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