Surgeons Bring Relief for Headaches that Start in the NeckDisc problems in the neck can cause severe headaches. In some people, these headaches come with nausea, arm pain, dizziness, and vision problems. When no other treatments work, surgery may become necessary. But how well does surgery work?
These doctors looked at nine patients with extreme headaches caused by the discs in the upper part of the neck. All patients had a specific type of surgery called anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF). In this surgery, the surgeon works from the front (anterior) part of the neck. The problem disc is removed in a procedure called a discectomy.) Bone graft material is then put in place of the disc. The bone graft eventually grows into the vertebrae above and below, fusing them into one solid bone.
The patients were followed for an average of three years after surgery. In that time all of the patients got relief from their pain. Five of them reported total relief from their headaches. The main complication of the ACDF surgery was a problem with swallowing in some of the patients, but this went away with time. Notably, all nine patients said they would have the same surgery again. The researchers conclude that ACDF can be an effective treatment for patients whose headaches are coming from problem discs in the upper part of the neck.
Jerome Schofferman, MD, et al. Upper Cervical Anterior Diskectomy and Fusion Improves Discogenic Cervical Headaches. In Spine. October 15, 2002. Vol. 27. No. 20. Pp. 2240-2244.
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