‘Doctor, my neck is stiff and painful’
This often comes with a headache starting at the back of the skull as well as pain in the
shoulders and between the shoulder blades.
In the beginning, the treatment is best followed by the general practitioner. On the menu you
will find: medication, cease smoking, osteopathy, physiotherapy, acupuncture, a soft collar,
improvement of work surroundings etc
If all this does not help, one could wonder ‘CAN AN OPERATION BRING
In some cases yes. The principle consists of removing the painful disc and to fuse the
vertebra above and below. Also here there are, unfortunately, limitations to the surgery.
Indeed, only a few discs may be affected. Best is one, two or three levels. To operate more
levels is technically quite possible, but the results are not as good. The current state of the art
techniques allows us to say that the odds that someone would feel significantly better at, let’s
say one year after surgery, are around 90%. This does not mean that a specific person will be
90% improved, but that out of a hundred operated people, 90 are satisfied and 10
disappointed. The decision to have such an operation done does not lie with the back pain
specialist, but with the patient her/himself. The patient therefore also carries the responsibility
linked to this decision. Indeed, neck pain is not a life-threatening condition and an operation
is never ‘absolutely’ unavoidable as it can be the case in the presence of a malign tumour. The role
of the back specialist is one of explaining what is happening and why and what the alternative
treatment modalities are, each with their advantages and disadvantages. Once the patient
understands the situation clearly she/he can take an informed decision. From that moment
onwards, the surgeon will be totally dedicated to the case ensuring an excellent operation and
a good postoperative follow-up.