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Neck pain and associated symptoms are common problems caused by cervical (neck) spine disorders . Half of the population will have evidence of degenerative (wear and tear) changes in their cervical spine by the age of 50.
These changes occur as a result of aging, where the discs, serving as shock absorbers between the vertebral bodies in the cervical spine, undergo wear and tear. This process can lead to collapsing, prolapsing, and reduced flexibility of the discs.
Common causes of neck pain and cervical disorders include arthritis, injuries, and trauma. In some situations, neck pain can also be a warning sign of something more serious such as spinal cord compression, a tumour or spinal infection. Any patient suffering from neck, shoulder, head or arm pain should be examined by an Orthopaedic Spine Specialist to determine the origin and cause of the pain.
There are many instances where non-surgical care for cervical disorders is preferable to surgery. In many instances, non-surgical treatments can provide good to excellent results in many patients. Some examples of non-operative treatments include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, physiotherapy, acupuncture, and epidural or nerve root block.
While the majority of neck problems will respond to non-surgical treatments, you may be among the minority of patients that benefit from surgical treatments. Decisions about surgery should be made after careful consideration of the potential benefits of surgery and the chance of failure.
The best chance for success is when the neck problem is clearly defined as the cause of your pain. For example, if your MRI shows a prolapsed cervical disc that is pushing on a specific nerve, and the physical examination confirms this, then you will probably benefit from removal of the disc and decompression of the nerve.