Incisional pain after posterior cervical spine surgery can be severe and very unpleasant to the patient. Ongoing incisional pain is one of the key disadvantages of posterior over anterior surgical approaches to the cervical spine. It prolongs hospital stays and delays return to work. In this study, the hypothesized that incisional pain in the immediate postoperative period is caused partially by tension on the skin as well as on the deep cervical fascia and the fascia overlying the trapezius, which are usually sewn together during closure. Reduction of this tension through retraction of the shoulders should therefore reduce pain as well as the amount of pain medication used in the early postoperative period.In this prospective randomized controlled study, 30 patients who had undergone posterior cervical spine surgery were randomized into 2 groups who either wore or did not wear a clavicle brace to retract the shoulders. Patients in the brace group began wearing the brace on postoperative day (POD) 4 and wore it continuously throughout the 30-day study period. Outcome was assessed by two measures: 1) the daily level of self reported pain according to the visual analog scale (VAS) and 2) the number of pain pills taken during the 30-day postoperative period.Wearing a clavicle brace in the immediate postoperative period significantly reduced incisional pain and the amount of pain medication that patients took. Beginning on POD 4 and continuing until day POD 13, the mean daily VAS score for pain was significantly lower in the brace group than in the control group. Furthermore, patients who wore the clavicle brace took less pain medication from POD 4 to POD 12. At this point the difference lost significance until the end of the study period. Four patients were randomized but did not tolerate wearing the brace.Patients who tolerated wearing the clavicle brace after posterior cervical spine surgery had reduced pain and used less pain medication.
View details for DOI 10.3171/2015.2.SPINE141118
View details for PubMedID 26296190