For many, back pain is an unavoidable part of life. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, 8 of every 10 adults experiences back pain during their lives.
For some, the discomfort or stiffness can be irritating, but it is manageable. For others, chronic neck and spine pain can be debilitating. With these patients, particularly if mobility is affected, disc replacement surgery can be an effective means of relief.
About Degenerative Disc Disease
The spinal column consists of a stack of bones, called vertebrae, which are separated by cushion-like sacs known as discs. Consisting of tough yet pliable tissue, the discs act as a buffer and allow motion between the vertebrae, helping maintain the position of the spine. Degenerative disc disease is the term used to describe back pain that is caused by the degradation of these intervertebral discs.
Degeneration in the discs naturally occurs with aging, and these cushions gradually become more brittle and less flexible. People who suffer from degenerative disc disease often experience pain that starts in the neck and radiates into the shoulder and arms. Pain may become worse when bending, lifting or twisting, or with prolonged sitting.
In addition, they may experience muscle weakness and numbness in the arms and legs. Many people also experience a loss in range of motion and in mobility.
Artificial Disc Replacement Procedure
The goal of cervical or neck disc replacement is to reduce pain and improve mobility by removing the worn or damaged disc and replacing it with an artificial implant made of medical-grade metal and plastic. This surgical procedure is performed using an anterior approach, generally through the front of the neck.
Patients may spend one day in the hospital, and most reach full recovery within about six weeks. Surgeons often recommend physical therapy, as gentle exercises, walking and stretching can help facilitate full rehabilitation and recovery.
Benefits of Disc Replacement Surgery
Spinal disc replacement surgery, which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration within the last decade, is quickly becoming a recommended method of treatment. Prior to this type of surgery, degenerative disc disease was often treated with spinal fusion. This approach involved removing the degraded discs and then permanently connecting the affected vertebrae.
Perhaps the greatest advantage of disc replacement surgery is that it preserves the motion of the spine, as the artificial discs are designed to feel and move like natural spinal discs. This treatment is also less invasive than spinal fusion and results in a reduced need for additional surgeries.
Fusion can also lead to stiffness in the spine, and the adjacent vertebrae and discs are subjected to increased stresses and premature breakdown.
If you suffer from back pain or stiffness, you may be a good candidate for this effective approach to spinal surgery. Call the orthopedic specialists at Steward Health Care: Centers of Orthopedic & Sports Medicine in West Jordan, Utah, to schedule a consultation and get rid of that back pain for good!