How to Deal with Long-Term Pain from a Cervical Fusion?
Cervical spine fusion surgery is often the last resort for people dealing with chronic neck pain, herniated discs, or degenerative diseases. However, some people still experience long-term pain even after cervical spine fusion surgery. This is known as cervical post-surgery syndrome or failed neck surgery syndrome. In this blog, we will explore the causes and treatment options available to deal with long-term pain after cervical fusion surgery.
Causes of Cervical Post-Surgery Syndrome:
Several factors can lead to long-term neck pain after cervical fusion surgery. The post-surgical pain can be radicular (radiations from nerve roots) or musculoskeletal.
Inadequate decompression of a pinched nerve is one of the reasons for radicular symptoms after cervical spine fusion surgery. Scar tissue formation during the healing process can also cause radicular symptoms.
Cervical fusion surgery alters the biomechanism of the structures in the neck, leading to increased load, muscle tension, tightness, and degeneration of joints, bones, and spinal discs. These degenerative changes can cause increased pain and inflammation.
Incorrect initial diagnosis can also lead to failed neck surgery. Multiple neck conditions present with the same type of pain and symptoms, sometimes making it difficult for doctors to diagnose the source of pain in the neck. Failure to understand the root cause of pain leads to failed cervical post-surgery syndrome.
Symptoms of Cervical Post-Surgery Syndrome:
While discomfort in the neck, soreness, tenderness, and swelling are normal after cervical fusion surgery, the patient may be suffering from cervical post-surgery syndrome if they experience the following symptoms weeks and months after surgery:
- Neck pain of the same intensity as before surgery
- Worsening neck pain after surgery
- Tightening of muscles and cramps
- Pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling that transfer from the neck to the shoulder, hand, arm, and fingers
- Reduced mobility and difficulty moving the neck in full motion
Treatment Options for Cervical Post-Surgery Syndrome:
In most cases, doctors recommend a course of conservative treatments before considering another surgery.
Physical therapy is one of the best treatment methods to reduce pain and aid recovery following neck surgery. It helps the patient regain muscle and joint strength along with full motion after cervical spine fusion surgery.
Anti-inflammatories, oral steroids, or muscle relaxants might be prescribed by doctors to relieve pain and inflammation.
Injections and Nerve Blocks:
Facet steroid Injections can temporarily reduce pain and inflammation, and nerve blocks can help reduce pain signals from an inflamed nerve root.
Cervical post-surgery syndrome can be a challenging condition to deal with. It is important to explore all conservative treatment options before considering another surgery. Physical therapy, medications, injections,and nerve blocks are some of the treatment options available. The right treatment option will depend on the individual’s condition and the severity of their symptoms.