Question:I got konked on the head by a moving beam at work. The X-rays and MRIs show that my severe pain is coming from bulging discs at several levels. There's also a reverse in the curve of my neck. I'm thinking about having surgery to remove the discs and fuse the spine. Except for pain relief, just what will this operation do for me?
Answer:Pressure on the spinal cord from disc protrusion in the neck region is called cervical myelopathy. Patients with this problem often report pain in the neck that can go down the arms.
Other symptoms can include clumsiness of the hand(s) and numbness and tingling of the hands and feet. Sometimes the legs are affected causing problems with walking. Balance and coordination can be disrupted.
If the disc isn't removed, it can calcify or harden. The vertebral bone nearby often forms bone spurs. With both disc material and bone spurs taking up space in the spinal canal, pressure on the spinal cord occurs.
Surgery to take pressure of the spinal cord and spinal nerves is designed to reduce painful (and other) symptoms. But it also restores the natural curve of the spine needed for a stable and normally functioning spine. There is also the hope that this type of surgery will help prevent the spine above and below the area from degenerating as well.Virany H. Hillard, MD, and Ronald I. Apfelbaum, MD. Surgical Management of Cervical Myelopathy: Indications and Techniques for Multilevel Cervical Discectomy. In The Spine Journal. November/December 2006. Vol. 6. No. 6S. Pp. 242S-251S.
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