, Volume 17, Issue 1 Supplement, pp 153-169
Date: 04 Mar 2008

Treatment of Neck Pain

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Study Design

Best evidence synthesis.

Objective

To identify, critically appraise, and synthesize literature from 1980 through 2006 on surgical interventions for neck pain alone or with radicular pain in the absence of serious pathologic disease.

Summary of Background Data

There have been no comprehensive systematic literature or evidence-based reviews published on this topic.

Methods

We systematically searched Medline for literature published from 1980 to 2006 on percutaneous and open surgical interventions for neck pain. Publications on the topic were also solicited from experts in the field. Consensus decisions were made about the scientific merit of each article; those judged to have adequate internal validity were included in our Best Evidence Synthesis.

Results

Of the 31,878 articles screened, 1203 studies were relevant to the Neck Pain Task Force mandate and of these, 31 regarding treatment by surgery or injections were accepted as scientifically admissible. Radiofrequency neurotomy, cervical facet injections, cervical fusion and cervical arthroplasty for neck pain without radiculopathy are not supported by current evidence. We found there is support for short-term symptomatic improvement of radicular symptoms with epidural corticosteroids. It is not clear from the evidence that long-term out comes are improved with the surgical treatment of cervical radiculopathy compared to non operative measures. However, relatively rapid and substantial symptomatic relief after surgical treatment seems to be reliably achieved. It is not evident that one open surgical technique is clearly superior to others for radiculopathy. Cervical foramenal or epidural injections are associated with relatively frequent minor adverse events (5%–20%); however, serious adverse events are very uncommon (<1%). After open surgical procedures on the cervical spine, potentially serious acute complications are seen in approximately 4% of patients.

Conclusion

Surgical treatment and limited injection procedures for cervical radicular symptoms may be reasonably considered in patients with severe impairments. Percutaneous and open surgical treatment for neck pain alone, without radicular symptoms or clear serious pathology, seems to lack scientific support.

The device(s)/drug(s) is/are FDA-approved or approved by corresponding national agency for this indication.
Corporate/Industry, Foundation, and Professional Organizational funds were received in support of this work. No benefits in any form have been or will be received from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this manuscript.
Reprinted with permission from Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Carragee EJ, Hurwitz EL, Cheng I, et al., Treatment of Neck Pain, Injections and Surgical Interventions: Results of the Bone and Joint Decade 2000–2010 Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders, SPINE, Volume 33, Number 4S, pp S153–S169