Cervical fusion is a type of neck surgery that fuses damaged portions of the spine together. Sometimes, the vertebrae and disks within the neck can become damaged with overuse and wear-and-tear. This may result in degeneration of the vertebrae themselves, or of the disks that rest between the vertebrae. The result is localized or radiating pain, or numbness and tingling down the arms. Cervical fusion aims to remove severely damaged portions of the spine, and link together the healthy portions of vertebrae that remain. Typically, damaged disks are removed, and the remaining vertebrae are stimulated to produce new bone tissue and fuse together. A metal bar, plate, or screw is often used to add to the stability of the neck, especially during the healing process.
Neck pain is frequently attributable to a bulging, or herniated, disk. Herniated disks can be effectively managed using non-surgical techniques. Physical therapy and rehabilitation are excellent treatment options for neck or any other type of back pain due to disk herniation (please see our article titled, “What is a herniated disk?”). These treatments focus on the restoration of normal strength and motion to the neck and spine, and address weaknesses or restrictions to allow for greater ease of movement. Only those cases with very severe spine degeneration are candidates for cervical fusion surgery.