Cervical radiculopathy occurs when a nerve on the spine is pinched. It is more commonly known as a herniated disc. If you suffer from cervical radiculopathy, you may experience pain in your shoulders, neck, buttocks or legs. The pain varies, depending on how severe the condition is. It may be unbearable. If this is the case, your doctor may recommend surgery.
If your doctor decides to do a microdiskectomy on you to repair your herniated disc, you will undergo general anesthesia. During a microdiskectomy, your doctor cuts away herniated disc to relieve the pressure and pinching. As its name suggests, a microdiskectomy involves making small incisions into your back, so that your recovery time from the surgery is much shorter than if you were to undergo a regular diskectomy. To make the small cuts, your doctor will use a microscope or magnifying lens, according to MayoClinic.com. After he makes the initial cuts, he will push back muscle and bone away from the nerve and disk. Then, he will cut away the herniated disc as well as any other discs or fragments that may be causing pain and pressure. After the surgery, you may stay overnight in the hospital or go home right away. According to MayoClinic.com, most people fully recover from the surgery within six weeks.
In some cases, microdiskectomy or diskectomy may not be enough to repair your cervical radiculopathy. If that is so, your doctor may also perform a spinal fusion or a cervical fusion. The procedure also requires that you be under general anesthesia and is usually performed immediately after the microdiskectomy or other surgery. During a spinal fusion, your doctor will graft a piece of bone, which either comes from your pelvis, from a bone bank or from a synthetic material, to your spine to fuse together the two ends left separated after the disc was taken out. After a spinal fusion, you will need to stay in the hospital for up to three days and may need to be fed through an IV until you are recovered enough to eat regular food. According to MedlinePlus, you may have to wear a back brace after the surgery.
Other Treatment Options
Fortunately, according to MayoClinic.com, only about 10 percent of patients with cervical radiculopathy need surgery. Many people are able to recover by changing their activities or by seeking out physical therapy. Some people may find relief by applying ice packs, and then following the ice packs with heat therapy a few days later. Other treatment options include taking pain medications, which can range from over-the-counter medicines, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naxopren sodium to stronger prescription-strength drugs such, as Valium, narcotics or medicine for neuropathy.