When Do You Need Surgery for Neck Pain?

Woman in pain holding her neck

When you have neck pain, surgery is not likely the first thing that comes to mind when considering treatment. You’re likely able to treat neck pain with rest, medication, stretching, and icing. However, for neck pain that won’t go away, you may need surgical intervention.

When surgery is the right treatment for neck pain

Doctors usually recommend conservative treatments for neck pain. But, if these treatments aren’t working or if the pain is related to a more serious condition, you may need surgery. Here are a few reasons your doctor may recommend surgery for neck pain:

  • Conservative treatments are not working — If you’ve already seen your doctor about back pain, they likely recommended a conservative treatment like medication, physical therapy or chiropractic care. While these treatments are helpful in many cases, they do not always effectively reduce your back pain.

    If conservative treatments are not working, your doctor may recommend surgery. They usually try conservative treatments first because they are less risky, but, fortunately, many spine surgeries are minimally invasive, so the risks are lower than you may expect.
  • You have nerve damage — If you have a spine condition that is causing nerve damage, your doctor may recommend surgery as an immediate treatment option. Avoiding surgery in these cases may result in greater nerve damage and permanent disability.
  • Your condition puts pressure on the spinal cord — Often, pain in the back is related to increased pressure on the spinal cord. This may be related to conditions like degenerative disc disease (DDD), herniated disc, or spinal stenosis.

Sometimes, conservative treatments can help reduce pressure off the spinal cord that these conditions cause. However, it may be likely that surgery is the right option for reducing this pressure.

  • Your vertebrae are unstable — Damaged vertebrae or vertebrae destabilized by damaged discs may need to be corrected by surgery. Stabilizing the vertebrae can reduce pressure off the spinal cord, which lessens pain and improves your range of motion.

Visit the iRISE Spine and Joint Institute for neck surgery

The orthopedic surgeons at the iRISE Spine and Joint Institute are skilled in a variety of surgeries for treating neck pain. Our team is here to help you if you’re ready to reduce your neck pain and improve your quality of life. Contact us today to learn more about neck pain treatment or to schedule an initial appointment.