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A Pain In The Neck
When anyone mentions spinal pain, the natural reaction is to point to the middle and lower back. But what about the neck? Neck pain happens to 10% of Americans with similar repercussions as back pain. This pain can come from the spine. If neck pain becomes unbearable, a damaged or herniated disc could be the reason. In some severe cases, doctors may suggest ACDF surgery to bring a stop to the pain once and for all.
Understanding herniated discs
The spine is made up of 33 bones called vertebrae. These run from the neck to the end of the back. Between each bone is a disc. These discs help with shock absorption, movement, and flexibility. However, through age and injury, discs become damaged. Herniated discs bulge out, pressing on surrounding nerves and causing severe pain. About 95% of herniated discs happen in the lower back, but damaged discs in the neck can be especially disruptive.
What’s ACDF surgery?
Surgeons use anterior cervical discectomy and fusion, or ACDF, to reduce or remove spinal neck pain. The surgical procedure removes the herniated disc and fuses the vertebrae. During ACDF, doctors must enter from the front of the neck to perform the procedure. For an effective fusion, doctors use a bone graft or synthetic disc for the space left by the disc.
Going under the knife
The surgeon makes an incision on the throat and moves the surrounding tissue to operate freely on the spine. Using a series of small tools and an x-ray, the surgeon can accurately remove the disc. Once completed, the surrounding tissues go back in the right place, and the surgeon closes the wound. ACDF surgery is an outpatient procedure, and patients can go home the same day. The patient may need several rounds of physical therapy to restore natural movement. ACDF surgery brings relief in up to 95% of successful procedures.
Only consider ACDF for these reasons
ACDF surgery is not for everyone. There are special cases when surgery is the right choice. Before going under the knife, doctors will try non-invasive methods, including medicine and physical therapy. Once all methods fail, ACDF is a viable option. If there is significant damage noticed on an MRI, doctors may opt to go straight to ACDF. Other reasons include nerve damage, weakness in the neck, hands, or arm.
Rid yourself of neck pain
Neck pain caused by herniated discs can put a damper on the quality of life. If an assessment reveals significant damage, consider ACDF surgery. Like any surgical procedure, ACDF has potential risks. However, herniated disc suffers should expect relief and a return to a comfortable life. Speak with a spine surgeon to learn more about herniated discs and spine surgery.