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Disc Replacement Q & A

What are spinal discs and why do they need  replacement?

Spinal discs are soft tissue structures that cushion the space between each individual vertebra in your spine. They serve as ligaments that hold the bony vertebrae together and as shock absorbers at the same time, and have a fibrous outer ring called an annulus and a softer interior layer known as a nucleus.

When discs become damaged, they sometimes need to be surgically repaired or removed and replaced with new ones. The procedure in which a prosthetic device is used to replace a natural disc is called artificial disc replacement. A total disc replacement involves a complete prosthetic disc, while a disc nucleus replacement involves a prosthetic nucleus that fits inside the natural disc´s annulus.

Artificial discs are made of durable materials that imitate organic discs in form and function, and are tolerated well by the vast majority of patients. If you have a metal allergy or sensitivity, be sure to mention it to your doctor so that they can take it into consideration. 

What conditions can disc replacement address?

Disc damage or displacement is usually due to age-related causes or strain, but sometimes it can also be due to congenital disease or other underlying conditions. Our spinal surgeons and physicians are experienced in performing disc replacement procedures that address most types of disc-related discomfort or pain, including those originating from:
 

  • Arthritis
     

  • Degenerative disc disease
     

  • Herniated discs
     

  • Traumatic injuries
     

Most disc replacement procedures are performed on the lumbar spine to address lower back pain.

Am I a candidate for disc replacement?

If you have pain in your neck or back and have tried nonsurgical treatments without success, you may require disc replacement surgery. To determine whether disc replacement is right for you, our highly trained and experienced providers will perform a comprehensive evaluation, which includes a review of your health history, a physical exam, and diagnostic imaging tests such as X-rays or an MRI.

What should I expect if I need disc replacement surgery?

The team at Legacy Brain & Spine Clinic performs all disc replacement procedures under general anesthesia, so you won´t feel any pain (if you have been referred for surgery, you have enough of that already!). We are known for specializing in minimally invasive techniques and perform all disc replacement surgeries as a same-day procedure.

Your surgeon will make small incisions along your spine, use slender surgical instruments and robotically enhanced tools to remove the damaged disc or part of it, and replace it with the prosthetic device. They will then close your incisions with dissolvable sutures – a recovery-friendly option that does not require you to come back to the clinic for the sutures to be removed.

After you wake up from the procedure and regain some strength in our on-site recovery room, you will need someone to drive you home. Your doctor will give you detailed instructions about at-home care and activity restrictions. Most patients can resume routine activities within two weeks after surgery.

If you are experiencing low-back pain or believe you may have a disc-related injury, remember that you don’t have to accept living with chronic pain. If you are searching or ready for a solution, reach out to us today and let us restore your comfort and motion.