Most spinal surgeries are successful, but once in a while, patients report ongoing or new symptoms after surgery. If you’re experiencing burning neck pain, headaches, numbness and tingling, hindered range of motion, and/or pain that radiates down your arm, you may have failed neck surgery syndrome.
In this blog, Dr. Jay M. Shah, our board-certified interventional pain specialist at SamWell Institute for Pain Management, explains the state-of-the-art treatments we use to stop postsurgical neck pain.
Reasons you may have pain after neck surgery
Neck surgery is supposed to resolve your pain, and in most cases, it does. However, several circumstances can lead to ongoing pain even after your surgery.
Although rare, inaccurate diagnoses are possible and could lead to the wrong type of surgery. Operative errors are also rare. The most common reasons for failed neck surgery syndrome are:
- Improper healing
- Excessive scarring
- Recurrence of the original problem
- New problems, such as a herniated disc or scar tissue formation
- Adjacent segment disease: too much stress above or below the surgical fusion on the discs and joints
These symptoms don’t indicate surgical error; they can occur even if a highly skilled, experienced surgeon performed your procedure.
How we treat pain after neck surgery
Pain after neck surgery can be frustrating, but you don’t have to live with it. Dr. Shah offers several cutting-edge treatments that target postsurgical neck pain and restore your ability to live and move pain-free. Here are three of our top treatments.
1. Epidural steroid injections
Postsurgical neck pain typically stems from a damaged or compressed nerve. An epidural steroid injection can quell the pain by blocking the pain at the source.
Dr. Shah injects a combination of lidocaine, a local anesthetic that numbs the nerve immediately, and a corticosteroid, a medication that reduces inflammation over time. He uses X-ray-guided technology to ensure he delivers the medication to the precise location.
Epidural steroid injections offer temporary relief, which is often enough to enable you to resolve the source of your pain through physical therapy.
2. Radiofrequency nerve ablation
If your postsurgical neck pain persists, Dr. Shah may recommend rhizotomy, the medical term for radiofrequency nerve ablation. In this procedure, he inserts a needle near the nerve that’s causing problems. The special needle delivers radiofrequency energy that gently heats the nerve tissue to the point where it can no longer function. Suddenly, it stops sending signals to your brain, and your pain stops.
Rhizotomies usually last for six months to two years. If your pain returns, you may be a good candidate for next-level pain relief from spinal cord stimulation.
3. Spinal cord stimulation
When other treatments fail, spinal cord stimulation (SCS) often provides the next-level relief you need. This treatment uses low-level electrical currents from an implanted device to interrupt the pain signals between your nerves and your brain.
Before implanting the SCS device, Dr. Shah runs small electrical leads through your skin and guides them to the affected nerve area. An external device controls the energy. After a week-long trial period, you report back to Dr. Shah; if the SCS device delivered 50% pain improvement or better, you’re likely a good candidate for full implantation.
Dr. Shah also offers the innovative Senza® HFX iQ Spinal Cord Stimulation System by Nevro. The HFX iQ is the first and only system powered by artificial intelligence. This FDA-approved system includes three components:
- HFX iQ Implantable Pulse Generator
- HFX trial stimulator charger
- HFX app
Unlike older versions of SCS, the HFX iQ system:
- Collects patient data
- Customizes treatment pathways
- Enables patient input about pain relief
- Logs activity levels
- Monitors medications
- Allows for adjustments via smartphone
- Shares data with Dr. Shah
With SCS and HFX iQ SCS, you can eradicate postsurgical neck pain. Call or click to contact SamWell Institute for Pain Management in Colonia, Englewood, and Livingston, New Jersey, and learn more about your postsurgical neck pain treatment options.