Artificial Disc Replacement
Patients with chronic back pain often have severe damage to one or more intervertebral discs that cannot be sufficiently repaired to allow patients to restore their quality of life prior to damage. Many of these patients can find pain relief and effective treatment by replacing the damaged disc with an artificial disc during a procedure called arthroplasty.
Arthroplasty helps to relieve a wide range of spinal problems by replacing the degenerated disc with an artificial one to act in the same way as the replaced disc. This procedure helps preserve natural movement and allow patients to restore strength and function to the affected area after a course of physical therapy. This procedure is performed through the front of the neck. Complications can include failure of the implant or spontaneous spine fusion.
Artificial disc replacements are made of stainless steel and consist of a ball on top and trough on the bottom to replicate the structure and function of the discs. During the disc replacement procedure, the damaged disc is removed through an anterior (front) incision in the neck, similar to a discectomy with fusion procedure. But unlike traditional spinal fusion procedures, artificial disc arthroplasty allows patients to maintain movement and flexibility within the treated area after surgery.
This procedure is most often performed on patients with severe pain that radiates through the arms or legs as well. Many patients also experience numbness, tingling and weakness as a result of nerve root compression or irritation. After surgery, patients can return home after a one or two day hospital stay, and can return to work and other light activity after two to three weeks, with full recovery taking approximately 12 weeks.