Considering Artificial Disc Replacement? Here’s What You Should Know

While approximately 70% to 80% of individuals experience low back pain at some point, most won’t require surgery to eliminate their pain. Suppose you’re one of the many individuals in the U.S. who struggle with chronic back pain because of a herniated disc or degenerative disc disease. In that case, you may begin to explore surgical options.

Generally, surgery is the next step when conservative treatment options or minimally invasive methods like physical therapy or steroid injections don’t provide sufficient pain relief. One surgical option that is generally recommended for individuals with a herniated disc or degenerative disc disease is artificial disc replacement.

What Is Artificial Disc Replacement Surgery? 

This procedure is an advanced medical surgery that utilizes an anterior method of replacing a damaged (or degenerated) rubbery disc within your spine with an artificial disc. This artificial disc consists of metal or both plastic and metal. It’s designed to preserve spine mobility and eliminate back pain. Disc replacement is typically considered an alternative to spinal fusion, which permanently joins two vertebrae.

This procedure replaces both diseased lumbar and cervical discs. Cervical disc replacement resolves pinched nerves in your upper spine or diseased discs causing pain in your arms, upper back, and neck. These conditions can lead to numbness, tingling, pain, or muscle weakness that extends down your arm.

You have five vertebral bones and intervertebral discs in your lumbar between your pelvis and rib cage. The surgeon removes a damaged disc in your lower spine during artificial disc replacement. They then replace it with an artificial lumbar disc. Generally, you must be struggling with specific common back issues that don’t respond to other treatments to qualify for lumbar disc replacement.

Signs that Artificial Disc Replacement Surgery May Be Ideal for You 

If you’re experiencing any of the signs below, you may be a good candidate for artificial disc replacement for back pain relief. You’ll want to consult a back and spine pain specialist who will determine the right approach for you.

1. You’re Experiencing Radiating Pain That Spreads through Your Limbs 

If you’re experiencing radiating pain throughout your legs and arms, that could signify that you have a pinched nerve. Several things can cause a pinched nerve, including a compressed or herniated cervical disc. If you’re suffering from this type of pain and haven’t yet received a diagnosis, you must consult with a back pain specialist to determine the cause of your pain and seek treatment.

Depending on the diagnosis you receive, your doctor may suggest you first try to see if you can ease the pain with conservative treatment methods. However, in some situations, such as severely weakened discs, traditional treatment methods may not be ideal, and you may require a surgical procedure like artificial disc replacement.

2. You’re Not Responding to Conservative Pain Treatments 

Suppose you’ve tried conservative pain treatment methods, such as back braces, physical therapy, painkillers, or epidural steroid injections, and you’re still experiencing back pain. In that case, your next option may be surgery. Your back pain specialist will sit down with you and ask you about the pain level you’re experiencing now and how severe it was while you were on a course of conservative treatments. In some cases, another minimally invasive or non-invasive treatment option may help before moving on to surgery. But, if you’ve tried several traditional options, your next step may be artificial disc replacement.

3. You’re Struggling with Degenerative Disc Disease 

If you’ve received a degenerative disc disease diagnosis and its associated pain has worsened, or your previously prescribed treatment can no longer manage it effectively, you should consult your doctor about artificial disc replacement. DDD is a common cause for individuals requiring artificial disc replacement. Individuals’ discs can sometimes weaken to the point where it’s better to replace them.

4. You Have a Herniated Disc 

Herniated disc cases are not the same. Some issues of herniated discs are resolved with anti-inflammatories, sufficient rest, and physical therapy. Other more severe cases require more significant intervention. In these cases, the doctor may recommend artificial disc replacement.

Who’s a Candidate for Artificial Disc Replacement? 

Not all individuals with low back pain will be good candidates for artificial disc replacement. Generally, good candidates for this procedure have the following characteristics:

  • No substantial bony compression on spinal nerves or facet joint disease
  • Back pain due to one or two arthritic intervertebral discs within the lumbar spine
  • No osteoporosis
  • No deformity of the spine
  • No prior major lumbar spine surgery
  • No excessively overweight body size

To see if you’re a good candidate for artificial disc replacement, the surgeon may conduct some testing, including:

  • X-rays
  • Computed tomography (CT) scans
  • Discography
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans

The results of these tests help the surgeon determine what is causing the pain in your back and if artificial disc replacement is the right treatment option for you.

Recovery After Artificial Disc Replacement 

When artificial disc replacement is conducted through a minimally invasive approach, you should be able to get up and walk on the same day of your procedure. But, you must follow all the instructions your surgeon provides you concerning activities that you need to limit to decrease the risk of things like:

  • The wound is not correctly healing
  • Re-injuring the surgical site
  • Other complications

You’ll work with a physical therapist to help restore activity, educate you on how to perform day-to-day activities, and guide you through your recovery.

Contact Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery in Florida to Schedule your Artificial Disc Replacement Consultation 

Living your day-to-day life can be hard when struggling with chronic back pain. However, you don’t have to suffer from the pain. Treatment options, such as artificial disc replacement, can eliminate or significantly reduce pain. 

To deal with chronic back pain, you must seek medical help. There are several reasons behind back pain, and only experienced back specialists like those at Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery in Florida can determine the cause. Give our office a call at (855) 853-6542 or fill out the online form on our website to schedule your free consultation with one of our back specialists to get to the bottom of your back pain and see if artificial disc replacement is an ideal treatment for your situation.