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Neck Surgery & Long-Term Outcomes?



Chiropractor, Dr. Alexander Jimenez examines the debate of neck surgery and its benefit in the long run.

How often have you heard someone say, “I have a pinched nerve in my neck and I have to have surgery.” There are certainly cases where surgery is required, but operation should ONLY be considered after ALL non-surgical treatment approaches are attempted first (and they’ve failed). Paul C. McAfee, MD says who “lumbar spine fusion surgery is generally not recommended until a patient has attempted 6 to 12 weeks of sufficient non-surgical care” Hence, this article will focus on study that clearly demonstrates that neck surgery does not enhance the outcomes of patients with chronic neck pain.

Chronic Neck Pain



Spine surgery creates permanent impairment of motion.
Neck surgery creates permanent impairment of motion.

Neck pain is, by definition, neck pain that has been present. This category of neck pain is well represented, because lots of the neck pain sufferers that I see have had their neck pain “for years,” or at least more than 3 weeks. Depending upon the level of pain and its effect on a person’s ability to go about their daily activities, many people with chronic neck pain will ask their primary care physician, “Is there anything which can be done?” The desire for a “quick fix” would be the frequent focus for those suffering with neck pain.Unfortunately, based on recent studies that there might not be a quick fix, or at least surgery is NOT the solution.

When Surgery Is Needed




The Proof

The December 2012 issue of The European Spine Journal reports that spine surgery did not improve the outcomes for patients with chronic neck pain. They pointed to studies that revealed unless each effort to control pain had neglected some very strong reasons NOT to have spine surgery. One reason was a hospital speed after spine surgery. Another was that many studies on surgical conservative care showed a higher risk of prejudice, suggesting the research on surgical intervention was biased from the study approach used. They further reported, “The benefit of surgery over conservative care is not clearly demonstrated.”

In February of 2008, the Neck Pain Task Force printed overpowering evidence that study supports the use of cervical spine manipulation (adjustments) in the treatment of both chronic and acute neck pain with or without radiculopathy. And yet another author (Bronfort) published similar findings in 2010 at a large United Kingdom-based research that looked at the published evidence supporting several kinds of treatment for various problems. They found cervical spine alterations were effective for neck pain of ANY length (acute or chronic).

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