Schalk Burger is taking a huge risk by having a neck fusion operation, according to a Jo’burg doctor.
The operation is performed to relieve the pressure on one or more nerve roots, or on the spinal cord. It involves the stabilisation of two or more vertebrae by locking them together (fusing them). The fusion stops the vertebral motion and as a result, the pain is also stopped.
However, the doctor contacted by keo.co.za (who wished to remain anonymous) said Burger should not be going under the knife.
“Neck surgery should be avoided whenever possible,” he said. “I have a patient who had neck fushion and she lost 50% mobility in her neck. How can Schalk expect to play rugby again if he can’t move his neck? I always recommend that patients wear a neck brace, day and night, for three months, and then enter a rehabiliation programme.”
According to the doctor, having the operation may result in short-term benefits, but problems could arise further down the line.
“When you fuse the C1-C2 vertebrae, you put pressure on the disc above,” he said. “If that disc gets damaged then the patient will have major problems.
“To be perfectly honest, when I heard about Schalk’s injury I immediately said he would never play rugby again. It is an extremely serious injury.”
By Simon Borchardt