Who Benefits from Disc Replacement
If you are diagnosed with a herniated or otherwise damaged disc, artificial disc replacement is a possible option. Many patients with disc issues undergo spinal fusion, but disc replacement is becoming more common.
Whether or not disc replacement is a viable alternative for a particular patient depends on the individual’s general health, including other back-related issues. If a person can benefit from disc replacement, the procedure offers greater mobility and “normality” than standard spinal fusion.
Range of Motion Preserved
Preservation of the range of motion serves as a major advantage of disc replacement over spinal fusion. Because a new disc is put in place, the patient’s range of motion is preserved or restored. This is especially good news for active, athletic people.
It may also make a difference in whether certain individuals can continue in their current line of employment, if the job requires a full range of motion to perform.
Most artificial disc replacement patients are able to return to all normal activities – including vigorous exercise – within three months of surgery.
Disc replacements take much less recovery time than spinal fusions, and patients require less pain medication. There is also a lower incidence of complications, although any surgery involves a certain amount of risk. In the long-term, disc replacement may cause less degeneration in other discs when compared with spinal fusion.
Cervical Spine Candidates
If the damaged or herniated disc is located in the neck, the disc replacement occurs in the cervical spine. Good candidates for the procedure suffer from both neck and arm pain due to disc problems. These patients should not have extensive arthritis or spinal deformities. If their facet joints are degenerated, that usually rules out a patient as a candidate for artificial cervical disc replacement, because such damage limits the range of motion.
Lower Back Pain Candidates
Candidates for artificial disc replacement in the lumbar – lower back – region should not have undergone past spinal surgery. Other factors making a patient a good candidate for artificial disc replacement include:
- Normal weight
- No spinal deformities
- Just one or two discs cause the lower back pain
- No widespread arthritis or other joint problems
Contact a Doctor Today
If you have been diagnosed with disc problems and would like to know whether you are a candidate for disc replacement, call a Tampa Bay back pain doctor today and arrange an appointment.