Signs You May Need an Artificial Disc Replacement Surgery

Chronic back pain that doesn’t respond to conservative treatment options like physical therapy and pain medication could indicate you are suffering from degenerative disc disease (DDD). This condition causes the discs in your spine to break down and collapse. When this happens, it can put pressure on your spinal cord and nerves, leading to chronic pain.

You may be a candidate for artificial disc replacement surgery if you have degenerative disc disease. While only some are good candidates for artificial disc replacement surgery, there are key indicators that can help you and your doctor determine whether disc replacement is the best solution to relieve your back pain.

Factors That Can Lead to the Need for Disc Replacement Surgery

Some conditions can cause chronic back pain and lead to the need for disc replacement surgery. Here are some of the most common:

  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Trauma or injury to the spine
  • Herniated disc
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Facet joint arthritis

Disc degeneration is a slow process, and it does not cause pain in the early stages. However, as the discs continue to degrade, they may become thinner and bulge or collapse. This can put pressure on the nerves in your spine, leading to pain, numbness, or tingling in your back, legs, or arms. Knowing the warning signs of degenerative disc disease is key to treating the condition early and avoiding surgery.

How Will My Doctor Determine if I am a Candidate?

If you are considering disc replacement surgery, your doctor will review your medical history, conduct a physical examination, and likely order several tests to determine if you are a good candidate for the procedure. These tests may include the following:

  • Imaging tests: Such as an MRI or CT scan—to assess the condition of your spine
  • Blood tests: To check for infection or other medical conditions that may make surgery unsafe
  • Nerve testing: To see if there is pressure on the nerves in your spine

The best candidates for artificial disc replacement are those who:

  • Are between the ages of 35 and 60 who have had pain for at least six months that has not responded to conservative treatments
  • Have degenerative disc disease with no signs of spinal instability
  • Do not have osteoporosis or a history of infection in the spine.

There are some people who, for various reasons, are not good candidates for artificial disc replacement. These include people who:

  • Are under the age of 35 or over the age of 60
  • Have signs of spinal instability, osteoporosis, active cancer, or a history of spinal infections
  • Have a history of kidney disease, liver disease, autoimmune disorders, or uncontrolled diabetes

If you are not a candidate for artificial disc replacement, your doctor may recommend another treatment option, such as disc fusion surgery. Be sure to discuss the risks and benefits of each treatment option with your doctor before making a decision.

Which is Better: Fusion or Disc Replacement?

There is no easy answer to this question. The best type of surgery for you will depend on several factors, including:

  • The location of the damaged disc
  • The severity of your symptoms
  • Your age and general health
  • Whether you have had previous spine surgery
  • Your surgeon’s preference and experience

Both fusion and disc replacement surgery has risks and benefits. Be sure to discuss all of your options with your doctor before making a decision.

Disc Replacement Surgery: What to Expect

Once you and your doctor have decided that artificial disc replacement surgery is the best treatment option, it’s time to start preparing for it. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Pre-operative preparation: You will likely be asked to stop taking certain medications, such as blood thinners and NSAIDs, a few weeks before surgery. You may also need to stop smoking, lose weight, have any other medical conditions under control, and get clearance from your primary care doctor before surgery.
  • Surgery: Disc replacement surgery is usually performed under general anesthesia. The surgeon will make an incision in your back and remove the damaged disc. They will then insert the artificial disc into the space left by the removed disc. Surgery typically takes 2-3 hours, and you will likely be able to go home the same day.
  • Recovery: You will likely need to take it easy for the first week or two after surgery as your body heals. You may need to wear a back brace and take pain medication. Physical therapy will also be a crucial part of your recovery, and you can expect a full recovery within 3-6 months.

Taking proactive dietary measures before surgery can help your body heal faster after the procedure. Be sure to eat a healthy diet emphasizing protein and avoid smoking, which can delay healing.

What Are the Risks and Complications of Disc Replacement Surgery?

Disc replacement surgery is a safe and effective treatment option for those with degenerative disc disease. Like any surgery, however, artificial disc replacement surgery comes with certain risks and complications. These may include:

  • Infection
  • Nerve damage
  • Implant failure

However, the risks and complications of disc replacement surgery are rare. To help minimize your risks, follow your surgeon’s instructions and attend your post-operative appointments.

Discover Your Back Pain Treatment Options by Contacting Orthopedic and Laser Spine Surgery in Florida Today

Disc replacement surgery is a safe and effective treatment option for those with degenerative disc disease. If debilitating back pain brings down your quality of life, you don’t have to suffer in silence.

We are committed to providing our patients with the best possible care at Florida Orthopedic and Laser Spine Surgery. We will work with you to develop a treatment plan tailored to your individual needs. To find out if disc replacement surgery is right for you, contact us or call (855) 853-6542 today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced spine surgeons.