Neck pain is a common problem, and as well as soft tissue injuries, it may be due to problems with your cervical vertebrae. If you have pain or a chronic issue in your cervical spine, Kade Huntsman, MD, practicing in Salt Lake City, is a world-class orthopedic spine surgeon who can diagnose the problem and recommend the most effective treatments. Find out more by calling Dr. Huntsman today, or book an appointment online.
The cervical spine consists of the vertebrae that make up your neck. Muscles, ligaments, and tendons support the seven vertebrae of your cervical spine, enabling your neck to move in many different directions.
Sponge-like discs between the vertebrae protect the bones from compression, concussion, and friction. Cervical vertebrae also protect your spinal cord, the network of nerves that relays messages from your brain to the rest of your body.
Several conditions can affect the cervical spine, the most common being:
Herniated discs often develop because of wear and tear that takes place over time, or as a result of disc degeneration. This causes a weak spot to develop in the tough outer casing of the disc, so the softer center can leak out and press on nearby nerves. Herniated discs can also be the result of overloading your back. You may also experience a bulging disc in your cervical spine, wherein the disc moves out of alignment but remains intact.
As you get older, the discs in-between your vertebrae start to lose moisture and begin to flatten, harden, and become less effective.
Scoliosis is a condition in which your spine curves to one side rather than following a vertical path from your neck to your pelvis.
Spondylolisthesis occurs when one vertebra slips forward over another because of the degeneration of the discs in-between each vertebra.
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal that causes compression of the spinal cord. Severe degenerative disc disease, herniated disc, and spondylolisthesis can all cause spinal stenosis.
Spondylolysis is a fracture in the small piece of bone that joins your spine’s facet joints. It most often happens after a severe trauma like a car accident.
These conditions can all cause compression of the spinal nerves, leading to radiculopathy, which can cause pain and affect physical movement and sensations. Cervical spine problems are also a frequent cause of headaches.
Treatment for cervical spine conditions from Dr. Huntsman typically begins with conservative measures, which could include:
If conservative measures aren’t helping, you may need to undergo surgery. Dr. Huntsman uses the most up-to-date technologies and techniques to perform minimally invasive procedures wherever possible. These could include:
Dr. Huntsman uses the Mobi-C® implant to replace discs in instances of degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, spondylolisthesis, or spinal stenosis. The Mobi-C implant allows you to retain joint movement, unlike some traditional fusion surgeries.
To carry out ACDF, Dr. Huntsman makes a small incision in the front of your neck. He uses minimally invasive techniques to remove the affected disc and replaces it with a cage or implant, then fixes a plate to hold the replacement part in place.
Posterior cervical fusion differs from ACDF in that the incision Dr. Huntsman makes is on the back of your neck. He uses a combination of screws, a rod, and a bone graft to fuse multiple vertebrae. Posterior cervical fusion is more invasive than other cervical spine procedures.
If you have radiculopathy or headaches caused by cervical spine conditions, treating the cause should relieve your symptoms. In some cases, you might need to undergo surgery to remove a portion of the disc or vertebrae and create more space for the nerve roots.
Find out what’s causing the pain in your cervical spine and get the most advanced treatments for your condition by calling Kade Huntsman, MD, today, or book an appointment online.