Cervical Fusion

Being a personal injury attorney in Bellevue, Washington I have had many Seattle auto accident claims centered around upper body injuries. Because of the sudden impact in a car crash the upper body is susceptible to a wide variety of serious injuries. Injuries to the neck and back range in severity and can often be treated with conservative methods. If conservative methods are unable to improve the pain and discomfort, however, it may be time to consider a cervical fusion.

A cervical fusion helps relive back pain, by replacing a damaged vertebrae disk. 24 vertebra make up the spinal column, the uppermost, which are found in the neck are called the cervical vertebrae. Separating each vertebrae in the spine are cushy disks, which serve as a sort of pillow in between the bones to absorb shock and prevent the bones from rubbing on each other and the spinal nerve.

A disk may be pushed out of place by a sudden injury to the neck or back, such as what would occur in an auto accident, or may occur over time from continued stress.  In an auto accident the disk will be pushed out of place, which disables it from cushioning the bones.  A disk may also simply degenerate over time, losing its volume until it is no longer useful as a cushion. Occasionally, the encasement around the disc ruptures, deflating the disk or its liquid-based cushion..

Cervical Spine Fusion

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When one of the spinal disks is damaged the vertebrae bones will rub against each other and can even pinch the spinal nerve causing great pain and discomfort. Symptoms such as tingling, numbness, burning or a pins and needles sensation may accompany a damaged or slipped spinal disk. If conservative methods such as physical therapy, medical and epidural shots do not help with the pain, a cervical fusion may be the answer.

During the procedure, the surgeon makes an incision in the patient’s neck right below the chin. The bothersome disk is located and removed. The surgeon will then replace the disk with a piece of bone and fasten it in with a plate. This bone fragment may be taken from the patient’s hip through a bone graft or donated through the bone bank.

Surgery will help relieve the pain from the injured disk, but does put stress on the vertebrae surrounding it and may lead to additional complications over time.