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Will I Lose Neck Mobility After Cervical Spinal Fusion?

The purpose of spinal fusion is to fuse vertebral bones at a specific point in the spine where there is pain, instability, nerve issues and/or weakness. Cervical spinal fusion (the cervical spine includes the vertebrae found in the neck) is reserved for patients with chronic, severe neck or arm pain that causes difficulty in activities of daily living like getting dressed, reaching, lifting objects, driving or typing.

The most common surgical approach to a Cervical Fusion is an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion or “ACDF”, where the surgery is performed through the anterior, or front, of the cervical spine (neck). A discectomy (when the disc is removed from between two vertebral bones) is performed followed by a fusion. The other type of surgical procedure is a Posterior Fusion, which is performed through an incision in the back of the neck and is mostly used for fractures, dislocations of the cervical spine, and to correct deformities. A fusion surgery is done to stabilize the cervical segment and involves placing bone graft and/or implants where the disc originally was to provide stability and strength to the area. Depending on your type of surgery or surgeon’s protocol, you may be required to wear a Cervical Brace to immobilize your neck for up to 6 weeks. The goal of Cervical Fusion is to relieve pain, pressure, and inflammation by decompressing the affected nerve root.

Patients who may benefit from ACDF include:

  • Those diagnosed with radiculopathy, myelopathy, neck injury, or other spinal conditions like tumors, deformities, spinal stenosis, or degenerative disc disease may be good candidates for ACDF.
  • Patients whose persistent neck pain does not see improvement with nonsurgical treatments, such as physical therapy, bracing, or injections, may only get relief through ACDF.
  • Pain which is caused by movement or instability in single or multiple vertebral segments.

Cervical Fusion is an excellent method to decrease or eliminate neck pain and neck-related arm pain, and there are few complications associated with the procedure. Cervical Fusions have a high success rate. Even though there may be some loss of mobility by fusing mobile joints solid, after recovery there is usually minimal impact on a person’s ability to perform everyday tasks. A 25% loss of mobility would involve rare cases where 3 or 4 levels of the lower cervical spine are fused. In some patients, the range of motion can even be improved through cervical spinal fusion that reduces pain significantly.

Is Cervical Spinal Fusion Right for Me?

Only your doctor can tell if you would benefit from cervical spinal fusion, but typically it is not the first-line treatment for neck pain. By booking a consultation with Comprehensive Spine Institute, you can expect experienced spinal surgeons to help you regain functionality and decrease neck and back pain. To book an appointment with one of our talented physicians, please call (727) 300-2537 today.