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Cervical Aches/Pains

Every year neck pain affects millions of people. Most patients respond well to non-surgical treatments such as medication and physical therapy. However, a small percentage of patients may find nonsurgical interventions fail to relieve pain.

The spine is composed of 33 interlocking bones called vertebrae, which are stacked on top of one another.

Located between each pair of vertebrae is a spinal (intervertebral disc). The outer portion of the disc, called the capsule (annulus fibrosus), is made of tough, elastic cartilage. The capsule surrounds a mass of jelly like material the nucleus (nucleus pulposus).

Healthy spinal discs act as a shock absorber for the spine and allow the spine to flex, bend and twist. Changes associated with age, injury and illness may cause the disc to leak out.

These changes can cause pressure on the spinal nerves, resulting in pain, numbness, and weakness.

Cervical Vertebrae

Symptoms, which may include severe pain and neurologic dysfunction. Neck, arm pain and other symptoms may occur when a cervical intervertebral disc herniates. A disc herniates when some of the discís gel-like center (the nucleus pulposus) bulges or ruptures through the tough tire-like outer ring (the annulus fibrosus) and presses on nerve roots or the spinal cord. This is called nerve compression.

If surgery is needed to alleviate nerve or spinal cord compression, the surgeon may perform a procedure called an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. In this procedure the surgeon makes a small incision in the front of the neck to reach the cervical spine. Tissues and muscles are retracted (spread apart) to reveal the proper level in the cervical spine. The disc is removed and the space is filled with bone graft. A cervical plate is screwed into the superior (top) and inferior (bottom) vertebral bodies, which stabilizes the cervical spine facilitating fusion and healing.

The purpose of this article is to provide patients information about the latest advancement in the design of cervical plates.

Located between each pair of vertebrae is a spinal (intervertebral disc). The outer portion of the disc, called the capsule (annulus fibrosus), is made of tough, elastic cartilage. The capsule surrounds a mass of jelly like material the nucleus (nucleus pulposus).

Healthy spinal discs act as a shock absorber for the spine and allow the spine to flex, bend and twist. Changes associated with age, injury and illness may cause the disc to leak out.

These changes can cause pressure on the spinal nerves, resulting in pain, numbness, and weakness.