If you suffer from back pain or have damaged discs in your spine, you may be wondering what the best treatment options are for you. Two common procedures used to address this problem are artificial disc replacement and fusion.
But what are the differences between these two surgeries, and how do they affect range of motion? Let’s learn more about both artificial disc replacement and fusion surgery and their differences.
Additionally, we will also mention a practice where you can go for the treatment of cranial and spinal conditions in and around Colorado.
Spinal Fusion and Range of Motion of Spine
Spinal fusion surgery has long been the standard approach for treating degenerative disc disease and other spinal conditions. In this procedure, the spine surgeon removes the damaged disc and uses bone grafts to fuse the adjacent vertebrae together. Over time, these vertebrae grow together, forming a solid piece of bone.
While spinal fusion can effectively alleviate pain, it also reduces the flexibility and range of motion in the fused part of the spine. This can impact a patient’s ability to move and bend and may put additional stress on the discs above and below the fusion, potentially leading to further problems in the future.
Artificial Disc Replacement
Artificial disc replacement (ADR), on the other hand, is a relatively new procedure designed to maintain spine flexibility while addressing the root cause of the pain.
In ADR, the spine surgeon removes and replaces the damaged disc with a prosthetic device. This artificial disc mimics the function of a natural disc, allowing for movement while providing stability.
Preserving Range of Motion: The Advantage of Artificial Discs over Spinal Fusion
One of the key advantages of artificial disc replacement over spinal fusion is the preservation of spinal mobility. Here’s why:
Natural Spinal Movement
Artificial discs are designed to replicate the function of a healthy natural disc. They allow for bending, twisting, and turning movements, preserving the spine’s overall range of motion.
This can lead to a more natural feel during daily activities than spinal fusion.
Reduced Stress on Adjacent Discs
By maintaining normal spinal movement, artificial discs help distribute forces evenly across the spine when you move. This reduces the additional stress placed on the discs above and below the replaced disc, potentially lowering the risk of future disc problems.
Generally, patients who undergo ADR have a faster recovery time compared to those who opt for spinal fusion. This is because there’s no need to wait for a bone graft to heal.
Additionally, as the natural range of motion is maintained, patients can return more quickly to their regular activities.
Choosing Between ADR and Spinal Fusion
When deciding between ADR and spinal fusion, several factors need to be considered – the patient’s age, overall health, the specific condition being treated, and the desired outcome.
While artificial disc replacement offers significant benefits, it’s not suitable for everyone. Certain conditions, such as spinal instability, osteoporosis, or spondylolisthesis, may make a patient a poor candidate for ADR. Also, like any surgery, ADR comes with risks, including infection, nerve damage, or issues with the artificial disc itself.
Conversely, spinal fusion, despite its limitations, such as reduced range of motion, limited mobility, and adjacent segment disease, has a long track record of success and can be a viable option for many patients.
Artificial Discs in Colorado
Artificial disc replacement is a much more effective method for preserving the range of motion than spinal fusion for patients with damaged spinal discs. With the natural motion of the artificial disc replacement, patients are less limited in their movements, reducing the risk of adjacent segment degeneration and requiring fewer surgeries than fusion.
Although options such as spinal fusion may be necessary in certain situations, ADR provides the best chance for a successful outcome with minimal effect on mobility.
If you’re considering a surgical procedure to address your back pain, be sure to consult with our spine surgeon doctor here at Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery to determine which treatment option is best for you. Our board-certified spine surgeons are acknowledged experts in surgical and non-surgical treatment of intracranial and spinal disorders and are committed to providing you with the highest quality care using the most advanced technology and techniques available today.
For more information about our practice and the latest advances in neurosurgery or to request a consultation, call us today at (303) 790-1800 or use our online appointment request form. We look forward to serving you!