When discs in the neck or back are damaged, it can cause pain and impaired movement. These discs are located throughout the spinal column between each set of two vertebrae, and each disc provides flexibility and a protective cushion.
There is a certain amount of natural disc degeneration that often occurs over time. When discs degenerate, the loss of protective cushioning can make the vertebrae rub against each other and cause pain – as well as a reduced range of motion.
Why Do Spinal Discs Degenerate?
Disc degeneration commonly occurs with age, but it can also be caused by a traumatic injury. When a disc becomes extensively damaged, surgery may be required.
Pain and loss of function are indications that a disc might need to be replaced. If pain doesn’t improve with other treatments like physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications, then surgery should be considered.
For many people, an artificial disc replacement can fix the issue. Replacing the disc with a synthetic one (prosthesis) is an option when discs in the neck or back become so damaged that numbness or a tingling sensation radiates down the arm or another area of the body.
What Is Disc Replacement Surgery?
Artificial disc replacement surgery replaces damaged discs that are located in the neck and back with a prosthetic disc.
Once the prosthesis is surgically implanted into the spine during spine arthroplasty, the new artificial disc takes over the role of the original damaged disc. The prosthesis will return motion to the affected person and will also allow weight bearing.
Depending on the extent of the disc’s damage, the surgeon may remove some or all of it.
A partial disc replacement is when only the damaged portion of the disc is removed and replaced with prosthetic materials.
Material and Design of Prosthetic Discs
The artificial disc that a surgeon implants into the neck or back is composed of a biopolymer material and/or a special type of metal. These arthroplasty devices are designed to attach to both vertebrae just like the original disc.
The curved design of the artificial device also has a soft plastic section that is compressible to mimic the original cushioning effect. The new disc will help the adjacent vertebral bones to move smoothly around each other, eliminating bone-on-bone friction.
Are You a Candidate for Disc Replacement Surgery?
If back or neck pain persists after you’ve exhausted options like medication, physical therapy, and injections, then your doctor will probably order an MRI and/or a discography for full evaluation, and possibly also an X-ray and a CAT scan.
Using these tests, the doctor will be able to pinpoint which disc is damaged and diagnose accordingly. If the pain is severe, then your doctor might suggest disc replacement surgery.
Board-Certified Neurosurgeons in Colorado
Determining the source of pain is very important in obtaining an accurate diagnosis and treatment. The doctor/surgeon will also discuss your family’s health history in order to make a complete and accurate assessment.
Our team at Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery wants you to know that there are options. Find help for your back or neck condition at our Artificial Disc Institute.
You can visit any of our three locations: Lone Tree, Colorado Springs, and Aurora. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us today at (303) 790-1800 or fill out our online appointment request form. We look forward to serving you and helping you enjoy a more pain-free, active lifestyle once again.