Patients who experience severe arm pain may have a herniated or degenerative disc in the bones of their neck, known as the cervical vertebrae. These damaged discs can put pressure on the nerves and cause pain that worsens over time.
Those with mild conditions may see improvement with medications or physical therapy. If the pain persists, then an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion may be necessary.
An anterior cervical discectomy involves removing the damaged disc from between the two cervical vertebrae in the neck and fusing the two bones together. This surgery can also be used for fractured vertebrae and spinal instability.
Once the problem disc is removed, the bones above and below are grafted together with tissue from elsewhere in the body. Sometimes, metal hardware is used to stabilize the bones. Over time, the bones will grow together, or fuse, into one solid bone.
Patients can expect a recovery time of about 4-6 weeks. In some cases, arm weakness or numbness may persist for a few months after surgery.