Facebook Pixel

What Will Be My Range of Motion After Cervical Fusion?

Problems in the upper spine (neck area) can lead to pain in the shoulders and arms an potentially numbness and weakness down the arms. For most individuals the symptoms can be resolved with a combination of phsyical therapy, chiropractic care, and/or steroid injections. When these non-surgical treatments aren’t effective, your doctor may recommend a surgical option. One of the most common surgeries used to correct this problem is an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF), also known as a cervical fusion.

What is a Cervical Fusion?

range of motion after cervical fusionCervical refers to the upper spine, in the neck. A fusion is a surgery which fuses 2 or more bones together. Therefore, a cervical fusion is a surgical procedure in which the doctor fuses two or more of your neck vertebrae in your together. During the operation they may also remove the disc between the fused vertebrae. This portion of the procedure is called a discectomy.

How Does A Cervical Fusion Work?

Neck pain that propogates to the shoulders and arms is often due to a bulging disk, bone spur or something similar in the neck. These conditions may be the cause but really its the resulting pressure on the nerves and rubbing together of vertebrae that causes the pain. The goal with a cervical fusion is to stop the irritation in the joint. If the joint doesn’t move, it doesn’t cause the irritation and resulting pain.

Can you Move Your Neck After a Neck Fusion?

So, with a fusion the doctor is actually permanently fixing your joint so it can’t move and cause irritation and pain. This may make you wonder, can you move your neck after a cervical fusion? Of course. There are several vertebrae and joints in your neck allowing it to move. Most often a fusion will only affect one joint. So, while you’ll still be able to move your neck, you will lose some range of motion.

What Will Be My Range of Motion After a Cervical Fusion?

Studies don’t all agree on the patient’s expected range of motion after a cervical fusion. Perhaps that’s due to the range of circumstances leading to the fusion and varying degrees of seriousness. For example, some individuals require one joint fused while others require 2 or more fused.  In addition, neck mobility decreases as we age. So some patients may go into the surgery with less mobility.

Even though there aren’t exact numbers, the majority of studies have shown that a 1-2 joint fusion will result in improved mobility in the patient.

The majority of our neck movements takes place in the top two joints of our cervical spine. The lower cervical joints are usually the ones that require fusion. Also, most of us don’t use the full range of motion on our neck on a regular basis. So, even if there is some loss on motion, it won’t affect most of our daily activities.

Having surgery can be scary, especially a fusion. If your doctor is recommending a cervical fusion and you’re worried about losing your range a motion, have a discussion with your doctor. They can evaluate your particular situation and let you know how they expect your range of motion to change after surgery. Our doctors at Saratoga Spine have a wealth of experience to draw from as they evaluate your condition. Good luck!



*Please Note: Information on this site or any recommended sites should not be used as a diagnosis or a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.
Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery