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Do I need surgery or is there an alternate treatment?

Q: I have pain and numbness in the left shoulder and arm. The MRI Scan of cervical spine revealed that I am having degeneration and osteophytes formation at C5-C6 level. I consulted a Spine surgeon and he advised me to go for surgery wherein a titanium plate will be used. Please advise whether I can go for surgery or is there any alternative treatment?

A:Alternatives to surgery are physical therapy, medications and injections, if needed. If you have a disc herniation, canal stenosis or significant impingement, surgery would be beneficial. Surgery has its own risks and complications like any other surgery, so one should weigh the risks and benefits before going for surgery. If your symptoms are severe enough (disturbing your daily activities) and once you have exhausted conservative treatment for at least 6 months, then your only choice would be surgery. The type of surgery and implants used would be surgeon dependent.

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