30% of the population will develop significant neck pain. The pain is usually due to a disc herniation. If the disc protrusion is small pain tends to resolve over 4–8 weeks. Large disc protrusions compress the spinal cord and nerves leading to pain in the neck and arm i.e. cervical brachialgia. For these patients, anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is a minimally invasive surgical procedure with a high success rate (figs 1 and 2). Some patients develop significant neck pain due to facet joint osteoarthritis (OA).
Figure 1: C5–6 Disc compressing Spinal cord
Dr Timothy Steel is a leading neurosurgeon and spine surgeon based in Sydney, Australia.