What You Need to Know About Cervical Disc Replacements

 In back surgery

Cervical disc replacement is a surgical treatment that promises pain improvement for some back conditions. Cervical discs are nestled between the vertebrae in the neck and form part of the cervical spine: a section of the spine that contains seven vertebrae and runs from the base of the skull, through the neck to the shoulders. Each of the seven vertebrae has a single cervical disc between them and ultimately, over time, they begin to deteriorate as a result of wear and tear. This deterioration means that there is less cushioning and shock absorption, which can cause patients a range of symptoms such as:

  • Sudden pain in the neck, or pain in the neck that appears gradually over time
  • Pain that exacerbates when the neck moves
  • Numbness of the neck or arms
  • Weakness radiating into the shoulders, arms, hands, and even legs
  • Headache

If you notice a sudden onset of these symptoms, cervical disc replacement might be the right treatment. A cervical disc replacement surgery aims to relieve nerve compression and to maintain motion at the repaired spinal level. In inserting an artificial disc through the replacement surgery, the nerve roots will have more room to function, which will give them the space they need to heal and function normally. An artificial disc can also help maintain motion in the neck in the neck.

Who is a Candidate for Cervical Disc Replacement?

Candidates for cervical disc replacement include:

  • Adults between the ages of 18 and 60 with symptomatic cervical disc disease. These patients typically fail to see improvement after six months of non-operative care (physical therapy, pain medications, and possibly injections).
  • Patients who are healthy and otherwise a candidate for cervical spine surgery such as a cervical spine fusion.
  • Patients who have only one or two discs damaged enough to cause compression of a nerve (If there are two discs requiring treatment, however, there is currently only one type of disc replacement allowed to be used at two different levels, and your spine surgeon may or may not be used to using this particular device).

Overall, cervical disc replacement is generally recommended for those suffering from degenerative disc disease. However, some patients may not qualify. To find out if a cervical disc replacement is the right route for you, and to get a comprehensive consultation, contact the board-certified doctors at New Jersey Spine Specialists today.

How Successful is Cervical Disc Replacement?

While any surgery carries risk, disc replacement surgery is a relatively safe procedure with high success rates. As a result of the surgery, most patients experience improvement of their neck function, as well as minimized pain.

How Long Does It Take to Recover?

After cervical disc replacement surgery, most patients spend a day or two in the hospital. Afterward, patients must wait at least two weeks for optimal recovery. During these two weeks, patients can expect to be wearing a soft or rigid neck brace, to be attending physical therapy, and to return to their surgeon for a check-up and to have their sutures removed. Usually, it takes at least four to six weeks to recover in full, but patients should begin to gradually return to light activities within the first few weeks following their surgery. Recovery may vary between patients, and patients should always contact their doctor with questions based on their unique situation.

How Long Do Artificial Discs Last?

Unlike hip and knee replacements, many physicians have found that artificial discs do not wear out over time. Because the cervical implants do not have as much stress applied to them as hip and knee replacements might have, and because the biological environment of the disc space is different compared to the other joints, it’s less likely to wear down.

Eliminate Cervical Disc Issues at NJSS

New Jersey Spine Specialists has convenient locations in Summit and Montclair with board-certified doctors. Start your journey to a healthy spine today by contacting our spine specialists at (908) 608-9619.

Source(s)
* Spine Health: https://www.spine-health.com/treatment/artificial-disc-replacement/cervical-artificial-disc-replacement-surgery
* WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/surgery-disc-replacement-fusion

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