How to Deal With Long-Term Pain From a Cervical Fusion

For many people living with severe neck pain and symptoms from a herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, or a pinched nerve, a cervical fusion is the final treatment option. The purpose of the surgery is to relieve pain, yet many people find themselves suffering from persistent or worsening pain in the weeks and months following the procedure.

When a cervical spine surgery fails — meaning it doesn’t deliver the expected outcomes — the continued pain and symptoms are known as cervical post-surgery syndrome or failed neck surgery syndrome. 

Learn how to recognize the signs and explore the treatment options available.

What Causes Cervical Post-Surgery Syndrome?

Several factors could lead to long-term neck pain and symptoms following a cervical fusion. Post-surgical pain might be radicular (radiating from the nerve roots) or musculoskeletal (stemming from the joints or soft tissues) in nature. 

An incorrect initial diagnosis can also cause neck surgery to fail. Multiple neck conditions present with the same type of pain and symptoms, making it difficult for doctors to accurately pinpoint the source of pain in the neck. Failing to identify a clear etiology of pain prior to surgery increases the risk of developing cervical post-surgery syndrome. 


Some amount of neck discomfort, soreness, tenderness, and swelling is normal after a spinal fusion procedure. Additionally, you may feel some discomfort in your upper back and shoulders as your body adjusts to the altered biomechanics created by the fusion. However, if the procedure is successful, your pain should be controllable with pain medications and diminish as you heal and become stronger during the rehabilitation process.

Failed neck surgery syndrome is diagnosed if you experience the following symptoms in the weeks and months after surgery, despite participation in post-surgical rehabilitation and therapy. 

What Treatment Options Are Available?

In many cases, your doctor will not want to perform a second surgery right after a failure of the first surgery. Research shows that the success rate drops for each subsequent surgery following the initial procedure. Your doctor will begin by recommending a course of conservative treatments. You may have already tried some of these treatments to reduce neck pain and symptoms prior to undergoing surgery. 

Conservative measures may provide some relief, but are not always effective. In some cases, a surgical revision is recommended after non-surgical treatments fail to sufficiently reduce pain and symptoms. 

What Treatment Is Available for Chronic Pain Following a Spinal Fusion?

If you’ve already undergone one surgery that failed, you may be very reluctant to undergo a second one with no guarantee of success. But if you’ve been living with chronic neck pain for several months following surgery, what other treatment options are available?

You may be a candidate for scrambler therapy. Scrambler therapy is a non-invasive, non-surgical, and non-drug treatment used to relieve chronic pain for people who don’t respond well to other treatments. Scrambler therapy uses electrostimulation to replace pain information with non-pain information in the brain. Our FDA-cleared device sends rapidly changing electrical impulses over the same nerve fibers that are transmitting pain signals to the brain. Over the course of several therapy sessions, the brain comes to recognize and accept the non-pain information as correct. How? Because the human brain is neuroplastic, meaning it’s capable of creating new pathways and adapting to new circumstances. 

Scrambler therapy has successfully been used to help with multiple types of chronic pain, including neuropathy, sciatica, low back pain, fibromyalgia, and failed back and neck surgery pain. The therapy is very safe and has no reported side effects.

Contact Radiant Pain Relief Centres to Learn More About Scrambler Therapy

Radiant Pain Relief Centres administers scrambler therapy to treat chronic pain conditions like cervical post-surgery syndrome. On average, our patients experience an 84% reduction in pain, and more than 90% of our patients conclude therapy with a pain score of zero or near zero.

We have a start-to-finish comprehensive care model and financing options that make scrambler therapy accessible and affordable for everyone with chronic pain. We offer a free evaluation and free scrambler therapy session so that you can make an informed decision on whether or not this treatment is right for you before you invest. 

There’s hope for finding long-term pain relief. Please call us today or submit a contact form for more information.

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