Pinellas County Disc Replacement Doctor

If you suffer from chronic low back pain because of a damaged disc, you may be a candidate for minimally invasive disc replacement surgery. Not long ago, spinal fusion was the primary back surgery for disc joint issues, but now disc replacement surgery has been approved by the FDA. The FDA has determined that the risk level of disc replacement surgery is no greater than with spinal fusion.

Unlike spinal fusion, artificial disc replacement does not increase the likelihood that other discs in the spine will also degenerate. Disc replacement also allows a more normal range of motion than spinal fusion. A Pinellas County disc replacement doctor can relieve your pain. A skilled spine surgeon can help you improve your mobility and quality of life.

What is Degenerative Disc Disease?

The spine’s discs consist of a hard outer shell and a gel-like interior. As people age, discs tend to dehydrate, becoming less capable of cushioning the vertebrae. Most older people have some degree of disc degeneration, although that does not mean all older individuals suffer from back pain.

Candidates for disc replacement, however, are generally diagnosed with degenerative disc disease. For those affected, degenerative disc disease can cause chronic pain, especially when sitting or standing. While medication may relieve chronic pain, most patients do not want to rely on painkillers for the rest of their lives.

Disc Replacement Procedure and Recuperation Process

During a disc replacement surgery, the surgeon makes an incision in the abdomen and moves the contents of the abdominal cavity aside to expose the spine. The surgeon then removes the damaged disc, restores any collapsed areas, and begins the process of inserting the artificial disc. Two metal plates are put into the space where the disc was removed before a plastic bearing is inserted between the plates so that the artificial disc can move.

Most patients are up and moving the night of their surgery, and stay in the hospital just one or two days. Rehabilitation consists primarily of an individualized stretching and walking program, with the addition of an abdominal core strengthening program once enough healing takes place. Patients are restricted from certain strenuous activities for four to six weeks after the procedure, but can generally resume their normal activities after that time.

Long-Term Monitoring

A disc replacement recipient should expect to visit a Pinellas County disc replacement doctor annually to have the disc checked. The doctor can ensure the disc has not worn out, a procedure which may be familiar to those who have had knee or hip replacement surgery.

How a Pinellas County Disc Replacement Doctor Can Help

Patients with degenerative disc disease often try a conservative treatment regimen initially. If such treatment, which may include doctor-recommended exercises and physical therapy, does not offer consistent pain relief after six months, their doctor may suggest artificial disc replacement.

Doctors typically conduct tests such as X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans to see if a patient is a good candidate for the procedure. If your results are positive, your doctor can offer further explanation of how the disc replacement procedure works and how it affects the body’s biomechanics, as well as discussion of other options such as spinal fusion. If you suffer from back pain and would like to know your treatment options, call a Pinellas County disc replacement doctor right away.