Cervical discs function as the shock absorbers between the vertebrae in the neck. They also help create flexibility in the spine. However, in certain instances they can become damaged and may need to be replaced. Cervical disc replacement is a surgical procedure that involves removing a cervical disc and replacing it with an artificial device.
If you experience neck pain due to a damaged cervical disc, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Hyun Bae to find out if disc replacement surgery can help you.
The cervical spine is made up of the seven bones at the top of the spine. Intervertebral discs separate these bones from one another. An arch bone is attached to the back of each vertebrae. These arch bones form a hollow tube, called the spinal canal, which runs the length of the back. The spinal canal contains the spinal cord as well as nerve bundles. The cervical spine is more flexible than other parts of the spine. It also contains important vertebral arteries that supply blood to the brain.
Artificial Disc Replacement Surgery
For many people, the intervertebral discs in the cervical spine can become damaged. This often occurs when the soft, gel-like nucleus of the disc begins losing fluid due to aging. When this happens, rips or tears can occur in the outer layer of the disc, causing the nucleus to bulge or hernia. This process may also be the result of injury or trauma to the spine.
When part of the spine moves out of place it can put pressure on the central spinal cord or on the nerve roots. Eventually, a bulging disc can cause the body to develop bone spurs that also press on the spinal cord or nerves. Any one of these processes can result in pain for the patient.
Cervical disc replacement is a type of surgery that removes all or part of the damaged cervical disc and replaces it with a prosthetic. There are two general types of artificial disc replacement surgery: total disc replacement and disc nucleus replacement.
Total disc replacement refers to a procedure in which the entire spinal disc is removed and replaced with a new device. These devices are commonly made from a combination of soft, plastic-like material and surgical grade steel. They are implanted between the vertebrae to remove pressure on the nerves and help the patient regain mobility without pain.
Disc nucleus replacement removes only the nucleus – or center – of the disc. This is done through a small incision in the outer layer of the disc. Once the nucleus has been removed, a new nucleus is implanted. These are commonly made of injectable fluids, hydrogels, inflatables, or elastic coils.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How is cervical disc replacement different from spinal fusion?
A: Cervical disc replacement is a newer technique that actually removes the damaged disc and replaces it with a prosthetic. This device allows for a more natural range of movement, whereas spinal fusion actually fixes the two vertebrae together and inhibits future movement.
Q: Who is a good candidate for cervical disc replacement surgery?
A: The first step in treating a damaged cervical disc is to exhaust non-surgical options, such as physical therapy, rest, and management with pain medications. In the event that the damaged disc does not respond to these treatments, you should talk to your doctor about surgery.
Q: What are the symptoms of a damaged cervical disc?
A: The most common symptoms of a damaged cervical disc are neck pain and a stiff neck. If a cervical disc is pressing against a nerve you may also experience pain, numbness, or weakness radiating down your shoulder, arm, or hand.
Contact a Los Angeles Cervical Spine Expert
Do you experience frequent and chronic neck pain due to disc protrusion? Dr. Hyun Bae is a leading Los Angeles orthopedic surgeon with expertise in diagnosing and treating neck pain caused by cervical degenerative disc disease. You can contact him today at (888) 309-2848 to set up an appointment and find out if disc replacement surgery is right solution for you.
Next, read about lumbar disc replacement.