Anyone who has experienced chronic pain knows that it’s more than just a physical sensation. Its effects go beyond the body to influence mood, thought, and behavior. In fact, an estimated 50% of chronic pain sufferers also experience depression. The causes for this are varied. For some people, it comes from a loss of interest in activities they previously enjoyed. For others, pain causes a decline in mood that affects behavior.
Depression and chronic pain combined can also start to rewire the brain to be more sensitive to pain. While the brain normally diverts or minimizes signals of discomfort to let us concentrate, this mechanism may begin to shut off over time. When this happens, pain can increasingly become the center of attention. And because the brain pathways that handle pain signals use the same neurotransmitters as those that handle mood, the two can create a feedback loop that intensifies each.
The good news is that neither chronic pain nor depression are permanent or degenerative (they won’t cause irreversible damage that leads to further health problems in the future). Doctors have learned how to better treat chronic pain and depression together to help minimize the physical and emotion symptoms of patients. New developments in spinal surgery are also giving chronic back pain sufferers an alternative.
While spinal fusion was once the primary treatment for degenerative disc disease, a newer treatment called artificial disc replacement is available. Whereas spinal fusion fixed the two vertebrae together – permanently limiting patient mobility – artificial disc replacement lets patients retain a more natural range of motion. Spinal fusion also carries the risk of adding stress to the discs above and below the fusion, thus creating the potential for further spinal complications and surgeries. Finally, artificial disc surgery has been shown to make patients happier with the results while also offering faster recovery times!
Ultimately, no one wants to live with chronic pain and depression. The good news for patients who suffer from back pain due to degenerative disc disease is that artificial disc replacement can be a big step toward helping them overcome their chronic pain and escape the feedback loop of back pain and depression.
If you suffer back pain alone or back pain with depression, don’t wait any longer to find out what artificial disc replacement surgery can do for you. Contact Dr. Hyun Bae, a board-certified Los Angeles orthopedic surgeon, to set up an appointment. Just call (888) 309-2848 and get started on the path to recovery today.
Next, read about athletes recovering from artificial disc surgery.