published Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Ask a Doctor

Q: I have pain in my neck, right arm, thumb and fingers. My doctor ordered an MRI, which showed some disc and bone spurs on a nerve. Do I need surgery, or will this get better on its own?

A: If the level of nerve compression correlates with your symptoms, your diagnosis is likely cervical radiculopathy. Studies show that in up to 50 percent of patients, symptoms will resolve, but it can become functionally limiting. Nonsur-gical treatments include oral anti-inflam-matories, physical therapy and epidural corticosteroid injections. If your symptoms persist, you may elect to have surgery. The most common operation is an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. This is one of the most common spine operations performed in the United States, and it has excellent results and few complications.

— Dr. Garrick Cason, Spine Surgery

Associates; member,

Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

Readers: To submit a question for a medical doctor, e-mail it to Clint Cooper at See this space each week for answers.

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