November 28th, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE: In an eight-hour long surgery RAK Hospital’s surgical team relieved a hypertensive young man from several years of excruciating neck pain while saving him from permanent hand weakness.
Ram Lal Gupta, a 34-year-old Indian expat was suffering from cervical spondylosis – neck arthritis that affects the joints and discs in cervical spine – with disc problems at four levels and numbness in his upper limbs. When multiple pain killers failed to provide long-tern relief, Gupta sought medical help at RAK Hospital. Things took a turn for the worse when the patient developed sudden weakness in his left hand, and he was advised cervical discectomy.
“The surgery was quite challenging since we not only had to treat the cervical spine at four different places, but also because the patient was suffering from hypertension which made his condition even more critical,” explained Dr. Tinku Jose Kurisinkal, Consultant Neurosurgeon at RAK Hospital, who headed the surgery, “Because of the weakness in his hand and to avoid permanent damage, we had to conduct the surgery in one sitting for which anesthesia is also demanding.”
The procedure entailed replacing the damaged cervical, or neck disc with an implant to relieve pressure on surrounding nerves and maintain normal stability and mobility of the spine. It began with the removal of the diseased disc at all four levels with a microscope via an incision in front of the neck. Following which, the doctors drilled the bone to create space for the exiting nerves. The last step was to perform a fusion in which the vertebrae were permanently joined together by four cages anchored with screws that would ultimately enable the patient to maintain stability and range of motion of the neck. The cages are intended to last a lifetime and feature a unique design that replicates the natural movement of the cervical spine.
Following the operation, the patient felt immediate relief from pain and was allowed to go home just three days later. He also recovered from weakness in his left hand.
Dr Kurisinkal further explained: “Typically cervical spondylosis is the result of age-related wear and tear of the neck. However, it can also be caused by overgrowth of bones, herniated disc, smoking, or result of whiplash injury. People doing construction work which requires one to lift heavy weights are also prone to this condition. Of late, we are also seeing younger people suffering from neck arthritis due to bad posture while spending hours bent over laptop and doing other deskwork.
“Whatever the cause, it’s essential that people recognise the early signs of cervical spondylosis such as pain around shoulder blade, stiff neck, loss of control over bowel or bladder, or sudden tingling or numbness in neck and arm, and immediately consult a doctor. If proper corrective measures are not adopted, the problem can become chronic,” cautions Dr Kurisinkal.
Dr Raza Siddiqui, CEO of Arabian Healthcare Group, and Executive Director of RAK Hospital added, “While approximately half of the world population suffers from neck pain at least once in their life time, it is easy to avoid it by following a few measures, such as using ergonomic furniture, correcting one’s posture, using proper techniques of lifting heavy weights and taking short breaks to interrupt prolonged sitting. At the same time, persistent neck and spinal pain should be taken seriously in order to avoid surgery. I would also like to congratulate the RAK Hospital team for their correct and timely diagnosis and action that saved a young man from permanent damage and life-long pain”.
Commenting on the surgery, Gupta said: “I woke up from the surgery free of pain and have regained full strength in my left arm. The entire experience was great, and Dr Kurusinkal and his team were very supportive. They were extremely caring and focused only on my speedy recovery, so I could resume my normal life at the earliest”.