The spine (or vertebral column, backbone) is composed of 33 vertebrae, including the sacrum and coccyx. These bones are separated by intervertebral discs, elastic connective tissue that allows the column to bend, flex and rotate in a variety of motions, while preventing damage to the bones from physical shock and supporting the body’s shape. A shallow core inside each bone piece allows the passing of the spinal cord and nerve branching to other parts of the body.
In human anatomy, the cervical vertebrae are the bones located behind the skull, referenced to as C1-C7. Movement such as flexions, extensions of the head will be supported by the first cervical vertebra and the occipital bone. When rotating the head, the first and second vertebrae take the stress from the previous joint. The rest of the column will take some of the pressure supported by the first two bones.
Viewed from the side, the cervical spine must present a slight inward curvature, called the lordosis. A patient might present a C shaped curvature, known as a kyphotic curve. Several conditions may lead to an abnormal curve in the cervical area.
Cervical spine surgery is indicated for treating for a wide range of cervical spine problems. These relate to general back surgery problems, and specific issues such as trauma or instability in the cervical area. Degenerative disease will cause the conjunctive discs between the vertebrae to deteriorate and shrink, causing excessive wearing of the joints and even herniation. Symptoms include pain, numbness and weakness caused by pressure applied to spinal nerves.
In severe cases such as cervical deformity, a surgical intervention will straighten and stabilize the spine. Even though the cervical column is very flexible, it will still take damage from shock and injuries. If the forces involved are too large, spinal cord damage or even death may occur. Cervical spine surgery will correct fractures, cord damage, stabilize the spine and remove tissues creating pressure.
Kyphosis will occur sometimes from iatrogenic causes, from a previous medical treatment such as laminotomy surgery. Removing too much of facet joints will increase the looseness of the vertebrae, allowing them to bend excessively. Another cause is when vertebrae heal within an improper alignment.
Other causes requiring cervical spine surgery will include infections or tumors to the spine, neck cancer or system diseases.