Most people with workers compensation cervical radiculopathy get better without surgery. In cases where people don’t get relief with nonsurgical treatments they may require surgery. There are several types of surgery for cervical radiculopathy, including foraminotomy, discectomy and fusion.
A foraminotomy is done to open the neural foramen and relieve pressure on the spinal nerve root. A foraminotomy may be done because of bone spurs or inflammation.
In a discectomy, the surgeon removes the disc where it is pressing against a nerve. Surgeons often perform this surgery from the front (anterior) of the neck. This procedure is called an anterior cervical discectomy. In most patients, discectomy is done together with a procedure called cervical fusion, which is described next.
A fusion surgery joins two or more bones into one solid bone. The purpose for treating cervical radiculopathy with fusion is to increase the space between the vertebrae, taking pressure off the nerve. The surgery is often done through the front of the neck. After taking out the disc (discectomy), the disc space is filled in with a small block of bone graft. The bone is allowed to heal, fusing the two vertebrae into one solid bone. The space between the vertebrae is propped and held open by the bone graft, which enlarges the neural foramina, taking pressure off the nerve roots.
Rehabilitation after surgery for cervical radiculopathy can be a slow process. An injured worker will probably need to attend physical therapy sessions for weeks, and full recovery may to take up to four months or more.
During physical therapy after surgery, the therapist may use treatments such as heat or ice, electrical stimulation, massage, and ultrasound to help calm pain and muscle spasm. Then learning how to move safely with the least strain on the healing neck.
As the rehabilitation program evolves, there are more challenging exercises. The goal is to safely advance strength and function. As the therapy sessions come to an end, the therapist will help with efforts about getting you back to work. The therapist can do a work assessment, a functional capacity evaluation, to help determine if the injured worker is able to do the job safely. The therapist may suggest changes that could help one work safely, with less chance of reinjuring the neck. If the injured worker cannot return to work due to permanent physical restrictions or limitations, there may be worker’s compensation loss of earning capacity benefits or retraining benefits available to help.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin attorneys at McCormick Law Office have experience with workers compensation cervical radiculopathy herniated disc cases from job duties over time and traumatic accidents. Believe in better.