For an individual who is had a successful neck surgery only to have the neck pain return after a few months to a few years, it is an extremely disappointing event. Going through cervical spine surgery is not a minor event, and to be faced with the potential for a repeat surgery is not a small consideration.
Why does new neck pain occur after an initially successful surgery and what can be done about it with pain management Phoenix AZ?
There are THREE primary reasons why new neck pain occurs after a successful surgery.
#1 = Hardware Failure
The First reason is if the person’s hardware fails (hardware failure). When an individual has neck fusion surgery, typically screws and a plate are put in and possibly some rods to hold the bones in place while the biological fusion occurs. Cervical spine surgery done from the front involves plates, if done from the back it’s often titanium rods. The objective in any fusion surgery is to have the adjacent bones weld together so that pain relief will be more permanent.
If a fusion does not occur, then the only thing holding the surgical level stable is the metallic hardware. Every time a person moves, twists, bends, the hardware has stress placed on it. Over time, the hardware can become so fatigued that it may break. Screws may loosen and toggle around in the bone, and it may get so fatigued that a screw may snap in two.
Often times when this happens an individuals pain will increase dramatically. The increase in motion of the surgical levels from a surgery that did not fuse and now the hardware is not holding it in place is often extremely painful to people.
What can be done about the problem? Well the first thing that should be done is if a person has a substantial increase in pain months to years after an initially successful surgery is x-rays to see what the hardware and fusion look like. A CAT scan may also be necessary to evaluate the region more closely.
Depending on the severity of the problem, a repeats surgery may be necessary or if the hardware is intact and slightly loose it may be prudent to provide adequate pain management for an individual while the person is watched closely by a surgeon.
#2 = Adjacent Segment Degeneration
The second reason that a person can have new pain after an initially successful neck surgery is adjacent segment degeneration. This occurs because when the level in the spine is fused it can no longer absorb the stresses that it used to. If a spinal level cannot absorb stresses, those stresses it used to absorb either go upwards or downwards to the adjacent levels surrounding it. Because of the additional force being seen, these levels may be subject to accelerated arthritis and degeneration. This is the reason artificial disc replacement was invented, to try and decrease the problem of adjacent segment degeneration.
Individuals may start to have increasing pain when this degeneration reaches a certain threshold. Often times it may be possible to treat this nonoperatively with medication, therapy, injections and other efforts. According to research, the incidence of adjacent segment degeneration has been shown to be 3% per year. So it is a very common event and one that is often successfully treated without need for further surgery. Pain management doctors in Arizona often have numerous tools at their disposal to prevent the need for another spine procedure.
#3= Scar Tissue
The third typical reason that people have increases in neck or arm pain after an initially successful surgery is due to scar tissue. When a person has surgery in the spine to remove degenerative tissue and tissue that is pushing on a nerve root, the body often responds back creating scar tissue. anytime a surgical defect is created in the human body, and attempt is made by the body to fill the defect with tissue, which is typically not desirable.
This tissue may envelop nerve roots and cause significant pain in the area which also may shoot down into the persons shoulder and arm. A repeat surgery may not be the best idea to remove the scar tissue as it can turn into a vicious cycle of scar tissue removal and then subsequent formation again. AZ pain management doctors can play a vital and appropriate pain management with this car tissue in place. Certain pain medications along with therapy and potentially a spinal cord stimulator can make the difference in helping a patient avoid a life of chronic pain.
If you are experiencing significant repeat or new neck pain after an initially successful neck surgery, the pain management doctors at Arizona Pain Specialists can help you. They are experts in the nonoperative treatment of spinal degeneration and pinched nerves, including difficult cases such as post surgical neck pain.
Call today to receive treatment at the best Arizona pain clinics in the state at 602-507-6550.