Cervical spine surgery often involves the removal of a bone or disc and a bone graft to fuse vertebrae together behind or in front of the spine. A bone graft can be one of two types: an allograft (using a bone supplied by a bone bank) or an autograft (a bone is taken from a patient’s own body). Screws, wires or metal plates are also generally used to stabilize the spine further (instrumentation). When vertebrae are surgically stabilized, any abnormal motion is stopped and function is restored to the spine’s nerves.
A general term for age-related wear and tear that affects spinal disks in the neck is cervical spondylosis. Spinal disks tend to dehydrate and shrink as people pass middle age, causing bone spurs (bony projections along the edges of bones) and osteoarthritis to develop. Cervical spondylosis commonly worsens with age. 85 percent of adults over the age of 60 are affected to some degree by cervical spondylosis. The majority of people with this condition show no symptoms and experience no problems. Nonsurgical treatments are generally effective but surgery is sometimes necessary to prevent debilitating pain and other acute problems.
Symptoms of all cervical problems generally include pain and stiffness in the neck and can be treated with over-the-counter drugs, prescription medication, and/or various forms of therapy.
If any of the following become chronic, a person should consult with their physician to see if a specialist is indicated:
If someone notices a sudden onset of numbness, weakness, or loss of bladder or bowel control, they should contact their physician immediately.
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