Surgical Treatments for Neck Pain


When conservative medical treatments fail to relieve moderate to severe neck pain caused by spinal instability or compression of the spinal cord or nerve roots, surgical treatment may be necessary. The specific cause of neck pain and other accompanying symptoms dictate the type of surgery needed. Types of neck surgery include the following:

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion is the most common surgery for neck pain. It involves the removal of a disc through the front of the neck as well as a spinal fusion in order to maintain spinal stability.

Cervical disc replacement

Cervical disc replacement surgery is a relatively new surgical treatment option in comparison to cervical discectomy and fusion. It involves removing a damaged disc and replacing it with an artificial disc. In comparison to spinal fusion, artificial disc replacement helps retain more natural mobility in the cervical spine.

Posterior cervical laminectomy

Posterior cervical laminectomy involves removal of a lamina (the back part of a vertebra). The area is accessed through the back of the neck. In some cases, a spinal fusion is also required.

Posterior cervical laminoplasty

Posterior cervical laminoplasty is similar to a laminectomy. However, in a laminoplasty, instead of removing the entire lamina, the lamina is cut to make more room in the spinal canal. This reduces pressure on the spine and spinal nerves.

Posterior cervical foraminotomy

Posterior cervical foraminotomy involves widening the space where nerve roots leave the spinal canal. Access to the area is gained through the back of the neck. If nerve compression is caused by a herniated disc, part of the disc is removed; if nerve irritation is caused by a bone spur, the bone spur is removed.

Anterior cervical corpectomy

During this procedure, at least one vertebral body is removed in addition to the discs above and below it. Access to the area is gained through the front of the neck. The vertebra is replaced with either a bone graft or cage so the bones can fuse into one segment.

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of all types of neck surgery.