If you’re in need of cervical disc replacement, it means that one or more of your discs, which are small shock absorbers situated between the spinal vertebrae, are deteriorating or ruptured and cannot do the job. If this problem occurs with your cervical discs, then you have problems and probably pain in your neck. Neck pain, especially, can greatly interfere with your daily activities, even just sitting, as these vertebrae hold up your head. Damaged discs can also cause tingling, numbness, and weakness.
Damaged discs are usually treated with various methods, including pain medications, movement modification, physical therapy, and spinal injections. If these don’t provide relief in a certain time period, surgery may be considered. Normally, the only real remedy for this condition was to remove the useless disc and fuse the two connecting vertebrae together. This causes a limit to the mobility in your neck, causing problems in turning your head or raising or lowering it. In addition, in order to fuse the vertebrae, a bone graft is needed, usually obtained from the patient’s hip. This involves a separate surgery, although usually performed at the same time.
These days, more patients are opting for a surgery that replaces the disc with an artificial disc. These discs are made of medical-grade plastics with a metal outer shell, usually titanium or cobalt chromium. This surgery is not for every disc condition. Only a spine surgeon can tell you whether you are a candidate for disc replacement. Many factors are considered, such as your age and general health, the exact problem with the disc, the location of the disc, what treatments have been tried previously, and others.
Disc replacement in the cervical spine has not been practiced as long as disc replacement in other regions. In fact, only certain types of artificial discs have been approved for cervical disc replacement. Double replacement involves removing and replacing two adjacent discs with a similar level of degeneration. Recovery time in clinical trials was usually faster after this type of surgery versus a double disc fusion. There is also an indication that fewer patients may need a second surgery to replace one disc at a time. A solution such as disc replacement often offers the patient more movement afterward, leading to less stress on other vertebrae.
If you have a degenerative or problematic cervical disc and you’ve already been through other treatments for some time, it may be time to consider a single or double cervical disc replacement. Ask your doctor to refer you to a spine surgeon so that he may go over your medical records, X-rays, and the like and discuss your options with you. It may be just right for you.