Artificial Disc Replacement

As the spine ages, a number of conditions can result in chronic pain in various parts of your body, not just your neck or back.

Some of the more common disorders in the spine include:

  • Herniated disc – trauma or injury to a disc resulting in the disc protruding
  • Disc degeneration – when discs dry out and lose their ability to cushion the vertebrae
  • Spinal stenosis – the narrowing of the canal that houses the spinal cord and nerve roots
  • Spondylolisthesis – when a vertebra slips out of line with an adjacent vertebra

To a large extent, these spinal disorders are not problems in themselves. The trouble starts when they put pressure on the nearby nerve roots or spinal cord, causing pain, numbness, or even paralysis in the limbs. Pinched nerves can be treated with anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections, physical therapy, or surgery, with the aim being to relieve pressure on the nerve by increasing the space around it.

Deciding the right way to treat your neck or back pain begins with an accurate diagnosis, which involves a thorough orthopaedic evaluation and the use of tools such as MRI and electrodiagnostics.

This is a soft tissue injury to the muscles and just as orthopedic surgeons have replaced worn-out hips, knees, and other joints in the body, now they have the technology to replace worn-out discs in the lower back (lumbar spine) and neck (cervical spine).

Symptoms which might lead one to require disc replacement surgery:

  • Neck or back pain localized to only one or two degenerated or herniated discs
  • Younger patients who may not want to undergo spinal fusion
  • Symptomatic patients who want to maintain the range of motion of their spine.

Traditional Surgery

Historically, spinal surgeons treated certain disc herniations or degenerated discs with disc removal and fusion (welding together of 2 spinal bones).

Although the success rate has been greater than 90%, many surgeons are concerned that the fusion in one spinal area may accelerate the development of a disc problem at another level. Hypothetically, and with some promising results, disc replacement surgery may slow down or prevent the development of another problem.

Disc Replacement

This procedure involves removing the disc and replacing it with artificial parts, similar to replacements of the hip or knee.

The goal of disc replacement is to allow the spinal segment to keep some flexibility and maintain more normal motion.

The surgery is done through your abdomen, usually on the lower two discs of the spine.

Your Doctors