Artificial Disc Replacement involves replacing a painful disc that is causing chronic back pain with an artificial disc that provides pain relief without compromising the spine’s natural anatomical structure. Artificial disc replacement surgery may be performed on the lower back (lumbar spine) or the neck (cervical spine). Artificial discs are structurally similar to the damaged discs that are replaced and share similar functions, including acting as shock absorbers in the back or neck.
Artificial discs are usually made of metal or plastic-like (biopolymer) materials or a combination of the two. These materials have been used in the body for many years. Total disc replacements have been used in Europe since the late 1980s. The most commonly used total disc replacement designs have two plates. One attaches to the vertebrae above the disc being replaced and the other to the vertebrae below. Some devices have a soft, compressible plastic-like piece between these plates. The devices allow motion by smooth, usually curved, surfaces sliding across each other.
Artificial Disc Replacement versus Spinal Fusion
After various other non-surgical treatments, if you are still experiencing lower back pain, a Houston back specialist may recommend either artificial disc replacement or a spinal fusion procedure. However, which one is best for you? Your physician will provide this information based on your specific needs, but it’s certainly beneficial to learn more about these minimally invasive back surgery procedures and their differences.
Spinal fusion involves a fortification around a degenerated disc which keeps it from moving and causing pain. This bond is made by creating a connection with the vertebrae surrounding the problematic disc with intervertebral cages, pedicle screws, or bone connections. Bone grafts can either be artificial or harvested directly from the patient.
Artificial disc replacement completely removes the eroded or painful disc and replaces it with a prosthetic implant, typically made of plastic or metal, that perfectly fills in the missing gap. This procedure is highly effective but it’s not a solution for everyone because it only treats a few types of disc pathology. In some cases, an artificial disc replacement and a spinal fusion can be used together to create a more effective solution.
Candidates for Artificial Disc Replacement Surgery
As mentioned before, artificial disc replacement surgery isn’t for everyone. At UGH Pain and Spine, we develop a roadmap to recovery based on your specific needs. But to ensure you are well-informed, here are a few things required before an artificial disc replacement is considered.
- You suffer from chronic lower back pain which takes a toll on your everyday life.
- You are between the ages of 18 and 60.
- You’ve tried other non-surgical options, such as physical therapy, for at least 6 months.
- You have been recommended surgical options by a board-certified spine physician.
If you’d like to learn more about artificial disc replacement or other minimally invasive back surgery options, we highly recommend reaching out to a skilled spine doctor at UGH Pain and Spine. We make genuine efforts to offer long-lasting solutions and conservative pain management based on your unique needs.