Spinal discs are soft, cushion-like circular tissues that are located between the vertebrae. They act as shock absorbers, giving the spine flexibly and stability. Due to the nature of their functions, spinal discs can be prone to conditions, such as:
- Degenerative disc disease (DDD): A natural deterioration of the spinal discs as the body ages, resulting in loss of disc flexibility or disc herniation
- Herniated or slipped discs: When the soft center of a disc leaks through a crack in the tough outer layer and puts pressure on the nerve or nerve roots
- Spinal stenosis: A narrowing of the spinal canal that places pressure on the spinal cord and associated nerves
These conditions can result in symptoms such as pain, weakness and numbness, and may originate in the cervical (neck) or lumbar (low back) sections of the spine. Typically, these conditions can be treated utilizing non-invasive or minimally invasive treatments (e.g., physical therapy, medication, injections, etc.). However, should all other treatment modalities fail and symptoms persist over several months, patients may be eligible for spinal disc replacement surgery.
What Is Disc Replacement Surgery?
Disc replacement surgery is a procedure in which the surgeon removes the damaged spinal disc in the neck or low back and replaces it with an implant made of artificial material. The implants are designed to move and function like a real, normal disc, alleviating symptoms.
What Is the Difference Between Disc Replacement Surgery and Spinal Fusion?
Traditionally, spinal fusion has been the preferred surgical option to effectively treat debilitating disc conditions. With spinal fusion surgery, the damaged disc material is removed, and the two vertebrae are essentially welded together with bone graft material. In doing so, the motion to that afflicted portion of the spine is limited to relieve pain and other symptoms.
The difference between disc replacement and a traditional fusion procedure is that by replacing the disc with an artificial disc, the spine is given more natural movement. It is also less prone to the standard wear and tear the body puts on the spine compared to the fusion and typically has a shorter recovery time. Your physician can help you decide which surgical option best fits your needs.
Spine Surgery Specialists
At IGEA Brain, Spine & Orthopedics, our surgeons are at the forefront of the industry, offering patients the best treatment options for various spinal conditions. As a practice, we are fully dedicated to providing advanced, superior quality care for patients living with brain, spine and neuroendovascular conditions.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, contact us today.