Cervical fusion or cervical spinal fusion is a surgical procedure involving the merging of the cervical spine. It is employed for spinal disorders such as intervertebral disc herniation, degeneration of the joint and others that require full support to the spine.
Cervical fusion is also thought to relieve problems involving back pain and in fact, various patients have already supported the benefit from cervical fusion such as the relief of notorious back and neck pains. However, most surgeons would not even recommend it when your back pain problem is not caused by spinal problems requiring surgery. If you are one of those who are thinking about undergoing spinal fusion, it would be imperative to know about the advantages and disadvantages of the procedure to better decide on the treatment plan that you are going to take.
Pros of Cervical Fusion
As with any management, there are advantages that lead people to choose the treatment plan. For cervical fusion, the following benefits may be obtained:
- Provides pain relief
Cervical fusion can provide a permanent pain relief along the cervical area. This is for the reason that during spinal fusion, problems along the cervical spine are seen and corrected. Most probably, the lumen on the vertebrae is also widened; thereby, relieving nerve entrapment that may be causing the pain.
- Reduces the chance that another surgery needs to be done on the same site
Spinal fusion will lead to the loss of motion of the vertebrae that can lead to reduced wear and tear of the neighbouring cervical spine. Because of this, the probability of the development of another spinal injury to the adjacent vertebrae is reduced eventually leading to lower chances that another surgery will be performed again.
Cons of Cervical Fusion
Despite the advantages of cervical fusion to those suffering from pain and other skeletal disorders along the cervical spine, every surgery can have its disadvantages because of the mere fact that it is invasive. Cervical fusion can lead to the following risks:
- Inflammation of the nearby muscles
Since the vertebrae need to be exposed during the procedure, the adjacent musculature may need to be dissected. This procedure can potentially cause muscle inflammation during the recovery process that can contribute to pain on the surgical site.
- Possible nerve irritations
Since spinal fusion requires the use of screws and rods to stabilize the vertebrae, these materials may just cause irritation on the nearby nerves leading to secondary pain as well.
- Development of adjacent segment disease
Cervical fusion can also lead to “adjacent segment disease”. This involves some sort of loss of function of otherwise mobile vertebrae that is near the fused segment. The theory behind this is the presence of a rigid segment on the cervical vertebrae can also cause the lower vertebra to lose mobility as well because of the stress it receives from the fused spine. This loss of mobility and stress can further lead to degenerative conditions in the long run.
All invasive procedures done to the human body can have its disadvantages, despite the potential advantage of which. In cases of cervical fusion, better consult an orthopaedic surgeon regarding the procedure or you may actually explore other means such as chiropractic care to minimize risks that you may be getting from surgery.