Cervical Spine Surgery
The cervical spine is the portion of the spinal that makes up the neck. It consists of seven bones—called vertebrae—separated from one another by intervertebral discs. Pressure on or damage to the spinal cord in the area of the cervical spine can cause serious problems because signals from the brain to the rest of the body can be interrupted permanently. Damage to these nerves can compromise the function of many important organs, as well as the function of the arms and legs.
Injuries to the cervical spine can cause paralysis at all levels of the body below the injury, including the muscles that control breathing. All cervical spine injuries are emergencies and require prompt treatment.
Cervical spine surgery can be used to relieve pressure placed on a nerve root by a damaged or abnormal component of the spine, usually a disc or vertebra. It can also be used to correct fractures or dislocations of the bones, ligaments, and tendons that protect and stabilize the spinal cord. The goals of cervical spine surgery include:
- Relieve pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness
- Restore nerve function
- Stop or prevent abnormal motion in the spine
In cervical spine surgery, the surgeon may approach the spine from the front, back, or sides of the neck.. There are benefits and drawbacks to each approach.
Cervical spine surgery can treat:
- Degenerative disorders
- Cervical deformity
- Traumatic injury
- Tumors of the spine
- Dislocation and instability of the vertebrae
You may be a candidate for cervical spine surgery if:
- You have progressive neurological symptoms involving the arms or legs
- You have difficulty with balance or walking
- You are otherwise in good health
- Conservative therapy is not helping
Information and Resources
- Date of last review: May 24, 2017