Neck Range of Motion After Anterior Cervical Disc Fusion

Category: Neck Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: January 16, 2018

Anterior Cervical Disc Surgery

An anterior cervical discectomy and fusion is an operation that helps to relieve neck pain and improve or stabilize movement in the neck. But how exactly does this procedure help to address mobility issues in the neck, and what can you expect from the operation? We take a closer look at cervical mobility after ACDF in this blog.

Neck Mobility and ACDF Surgery

A lot of people focus on the pain relief that ACDF can provide, but another benefit of the operation is that you can maintain and even improve the range of motion in your neck. This goes against conventional wisdom, because the procedure involves fusing one vertebral segment to another, meaning these two vertebrae must now move as one unit instead of moving on their own.

One of the biggest reasons why ACDF can actually improve your range of motion is because herniated and damaged discs in this region can be extremely painful. If turning your neck slightly to the left or right causes a lot of pain, you’re going to do everything in your power to move your whole body to look in a different direction instead of just turning your head in order to avoid this pain. After the surgery, twisting shouldn’t cause any pain, so although you may not be able to twist your neck as far as you could when you were younger, many patients find that their overall range of motion has increased compared to their pre-surgery mobility.

Even if your neck mobility doesn’t improve after the operation, you should have more than enough mobility in your neck to go about your life like you once did before you needed ACDF surgery. That’s because in cases where three or four levels of the lower cervical spine are fused, about 75 percent of the spine’s range of motion remains intact. Most daily tasks don’t require more than 75 percent neck mobility, and estimates suggest that we only use 30-50 percent of our neck’s range of motion for normal daily activities.

Concerns Over Limited Mobility

If you are worried about how losing some range of motion in your neck may affect your life, bring these concerns up to your spine surgeon. Your doctor can help ease your concerns and shine a light on some areas of your life that might be impacted, and how you can compensate for these potential issues. For example, many people wonder if the operation will inhibit their ability to drive safely. The only real time limited neck mobility is an issue when you’re driving is when you’re twisting around to back out of your driveway, and you’ll learn new ways to adjust for these limitations, like by using your mirrors, relaying on a backup camera and taking a little extra time pulling out.

Minnesota ACDF Surgery

The vast majority of patients say the trade-off of getting rid of neck neck pain is worth the potential reduction in mobility, but as you can see, ACDF can actually improve your range of motion in some cases. If it doesn’t improve it, there’s a high likelihood you’ll retain enough mobility to perform the overwhelming majority of your daily tasks. So if you’re dealing with a herniated disc in your neck and you want to learn about your surgical options, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office today.

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