The vertical midline of your back comprises a series of stacked bones called vertebrae. Between each set of two vertebrae lies a small, cushiony disc that provides flexibility and shock absorption, while also helping to protect the nerves in the spinal cord.
A healthy spine flexes and moves comfortably at each of these discs. But as we age, our backs can begin to feel the wear-and-tear after many years of bending and twisting.
Many people don’t suffer pain or other complications from an aging back. But for others – especially those who have engaged in high-impact sports or active professions – the normal, age-related breakdown of the backbone can be much more severe. Your doctor may recommend surgery to replace your spinal discs that are causing pain.
Why Do I Need Disc Replacement?
You may be experiencing excessive cracking and drying of one or more discs in your spine, causing pain and limiting function. You may feel intense back pain, and this may also hinder your ability to move as much or as well as you used to.
Degenerative disc disease (DDD) can develop due to injury or a disease in your body. DDD most frequently occurs in the lower back (lumbar spine) or the neck (cervical spine), and it feels worse when you sit down – because there is more pressure being placed on your spinal discs.
Surgery for disc disease and back pain is reserved for severe cases that cause intense pain and debilitation – and when medication, physical therapy, and alternative treatments have failed. Having spine surgery can help you feel less pain and more mobility.
Types of Spinal Surgery
The two most common surgical treatments for disc problems are spinal fusion and artificial disc replacement. Let’s take a look at these two types of spinal surgery:
Spinal fusion (arthrodesis) used to be the most common type of surgery for correcting disc problems in the back. In spinal fusion, two vertebrae are fused together after the disc in between them has degenerated or has been severely injured.
In spinal fusion surgery, the two vertebrae are connected together with screws, plates, and/or screws to hold the bones together permanently. This procedure immobilizes that segment of the back, so there is less mobility than before – but there should also be much less pain, or perhaps no more pain at all.
Artificial Disc Replacement
Artificial disc replacement (ADR) is a newer type of surgery for correcting degenerative disc disease. Rather than fusing the vertebrae together, the surgeon actually replaces the discs with new prosthetic discs – thereby allowing a degree of back movement.
These new artificial discs perform the job of a normal, healthier disc. They are made of metal and plastic materials and fit in the space where the healthy disc once was.
Advantages of Spinal Disc Replacement Surgery
There are a number of advantages to having artificial discs as opposed to spinal fusion, including:
- Unlike spinal fusion, ADR preserves movement of the affected spinal segment.
- ADR uses prosthetic materials, not bone grafts.
- ADR may help prevent or slow down the degeneration of nearby vertebrae and discs.
- An artificial disc is safe to implant, and it is reliable and long-lasting.
Back Pain Doctors in Colorado Springs
There’s no reason to continue living with back pain. Our team at Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery can help your back or neck condition, so you can start living more pain-free and feeling like your old self again. We have three locations for your convenience: Colorado Springs, Aurora, and Lone Tree.
To schedule a consultation with our surgical team, call us today at (303) 790-1800 or fill out our online appointment request form. We look forward to helping you get back to the active lifestyle you enjoy.