Those that struggle with chronic pain in their neck may be candidates for spinal fusion – more specifically cervical fusion, where vertebrae from the upper portion of the spine (known as the cervical spine) are fused together to prevent the discs from putting pressure on the spinal cord.
Cervical fusion is a leading choice for those that struggle with spine-related neck pain, especially conditions such as:
- Spinal Stenosis
- Herniated Discs
- Spinal Deformities and Disease
It may also be due to cervical disc disease, which is the degenerative disc disease (DDD) of the neck. Although DDD is more common in the lumbar portion of the spine, it may also affect the cervical portion of the spine as the discs begin to dry out.
Cervical fusion can be an effective way to treat neck pain. But a large percentage of those that undergo cervical fusion surgery find that they still experience pain after they have recovered. When this occurs, it is known as “failed cervical fusion,” and it is a stressful experience for anyone that underwent neck surgery.
Why Does Cervical Fusion Fail?
In the spine surgery world, the term “failed” means that you experience the pain of any kind, even if it is a new or different pain, after undergoing surgery. If you have any significant pain after you have recovered from cervical spine surgery, it is known as failed cervical fusion.
The cause of failed cervical fusion surgery can vary considerably, with possibilities that include:
- Surgical Error
- Hardware and Screw Problems
- Adjacent Segment Disease
- Infection and Recovery Problems
In some cases, the issue may be more complicated. For example, the method of surgery may have an effect on the success, as posterior cervical fusion, which is more commonly performed, may also have a greater risk of failure than anterior cervical fusion, which is less commonly performed.
This may be for reasons that include access to the appropriate section of the spine, the way the weight of the neck presses against the screws, and much more.
Treatment For Failed Cervical Fusion
If you experience neck pain after you recover from spinal fusion, there is a chance that your cervical fusion has failed. If it has, the most important step is an accurate diagnosis of the cause of that failure. In some cases, the issue may be treated without additional surgery. At Spine Center Atlanta, we look for all possible non-surgical methodologies before we recommend any surgical treatment.
But in some cases, an additional revision spine surgery may be necessary. There is, however, good news. According to research, cervical fusion revisions are often very successful. But it is important that you strongly consider which surgeon will be performing the surgery.
Spine Center Atlanta is led by Dr. James L. Chappuis noted expert in failed back surgery syndrome that uses the latest in empirically validated procedures to help patients reduce their back pain. We work with locals in Atlanta, as well as those nationally that believe they are struggling with FBSS. For more information, please call our team today at 404-351-5812 to discuss your medical history and pain issues.