How much mobility is lost with cervical fusion?

Answered by Randy McIntyre

Cervical fusion is a surgical procedure that involves joining two or more vertebrae in the neck to create a solid bone. This fusion is commonly performed for a variety of reasons, including to treat conditions such as degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or spinal fractures.

One of the concerns with cervical fusion is the potential loss of mobility in the neck. The amount of mobility lost can vary depending on the number of levels of the spine that are fused and the individual patient’s pre-existing mobility.

In general, cervical fusion surgery aims to stabilize the spine and alleviate pain, rather than to preserve or restore full range of motion. The goal is to provide a stable and secure spine, which can often result in a reduction in the ability to move the neck.

However, it is important to note that not all cases of cervical fusion result in significant loss of mobility. In fact, many patients are able to maintain a relatively normal range of motion after the surgery, especially if only one or two levels of the spine are fused.

On the other hand, in rare cases where three or four levels of the lower cervical spine are fused, there may be a more noticeable impact on mobility. This is because the more levels that are fused, the more limited the movement in the neck becomes.

It is difficult to quantify the exact amount of mobility lost with cervical fusion, as it can vary greatly from person to person. Some individuals may experience a 25% reduction in mobility, while others may have a more significant loss. Factors such as the specific levels fused, the condition of the spine, and the individual’s overall health and lifestyle can all play a role in determining the extent of mobility loss.

It is important to note that while there may be some loss of mobility after cervical fusion surgery, most patients are still able to perform everyday tasks without significant difficulty. Adjustments may need to be made in terms of head and neck movements, but with proper rehabilitation and adaptation, individuals can often lead active and fulfilling lives post-surgery.

In my experience as a healthcare professional, I have seen many patients who have undergone cervical fusion surgery and have been able to adapt to the changes in mobility. Physical therapy and rehabilitation are crucial components of the recovery process, as they can help patients regain strength and flexibility in the neck and surrounding muscles.

While cervical fusion surgery can result in some loss of mobility, the extent of this loss can vary depending on the specific circumstances of each individual case. In cases where only one or two levels of the spine are fused, the impact on mobility is often minimal. However, in rare cases where multiple levels are fused, there may be a more noticeable reduction in mobility. Nonetheless, with proper rehabilitation and adaptation, most patients are still able to perform everyday tasks and lead active lives after surgery.