According to estimates from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, 80 percent of all Americans will suffer back pain to one degree or another during their lifetimes.
Though often quite uncomfortable and perhaps even temporarily debilitating, the majority of back pain resolves itself within a matter of days. However, when back conditions become truly unbearable and remain unresponsive to conventional types of treatment, more drastic steps may be necessary to bring real relief.
Among the techniques to which many sufferers are now turning is that of artificial disc replacement. Akin to knee and hip replacement procedures, disc replacement surgery with a Tampa Bay spinal surgeon involves the use of a mechanical device for a failed, degenerated or worn natural disc within the spine.
Advances in replacement disc design and surgical technique have given new hope to countless patients whose hope of reclaiming lost mobility had begun to wane.
Disc Replacement Procedure
First receiving approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2004, disc replacement technology has been continuously improving in recent years, with new and improved disc designs being tested at present. Though the concept of artificial discs is not exactly new, advances in technique and materials have caused clinical use to expand across the country.
The procedure itself now considered to be quite routine in nature and extraordinarily safe, not to mention capable of providing impressive results to patients suffering from chronic discomfort.
Replacement surgery begins with an abdominal incision and the removal of the gelatinous material (disc) that sits between the patient’s vertebrae. After that step has been completed, a pair of metal plates will be set into the bony material above as well as below the now-empty space.
Metal fasteners help keep the plates in the proper spot until bone growth can occur, surrounding them. The spacer devices will be compressed by the patient’s own weight during the recovery period and thereafter. Typical procedures take anywhere between two and three hours to complete.
The recovery process following disc replacement surgery varies among patients, but is often markedly shorter than that for individuals who have undergone traditional lumbar fusion procedures.
Replacement surgeries tend to produce far less pain and fewer dangerous complications than other lumbar spine techniques, and the materials used to create the artificial discs are carefully chosen to prevent rejection other sensitivities within the body.
Disc replacement offers patients a reversible, accessible method of relieving chronic pain which may help them sidestep common disadvantages of lumbar fusion, including reduced flexibility, acceleration of disc degeneration near the fusion site and permanently altered biomechanical function.
Many disc replacement patients have the ability to stand and move around just one day following surgery, and a typical hospital stay ranges between just two to four days.
By following a comprehensive rehabilitation plan that includes stretching, walking and gentle therapy, patients can expect to see continued improvement in pain levels over subsequent weeks and months.
Who Should Consider Disc Replacement?
As is the case with all spinal pain relief procedures, disc replacement may not suit every patient’s needs. In order to assess which individuals are strong candidates for this type of technique, a surgeon will need to perform one or more critical tests, which could include MRI, X-rays or CT scans. The patients best able to benefit from disc replacement surgery are those who:
- Have back pain thought to stem from primarily from one or two lumbar spine discs
- Do not have notable facet joint disease or nerves marked by bony compression
- Are not carrying excess amounts of weight
- Have not had prior surgical procedures in the lumbar area
- Do not suffer from scoliosis or other spinal deformities
Seeking Treatment Options
The massive toll chronic back pain almost always takes on those afflicted by it cannot be overstated. Physical limitations, agonizing discomfort and reduced quality of life are among the tragic consequences of serious spinal conditions, but sufferers should know that help is close at hand.
If you would like to explore the possibility of artificial disc implantation as a way to regain lost mobility, we invite you to contact us today.
Title: Respectful and Caring
By: Carolyn K.
Wonderful, talented, caring surgeon. I am very picky about doctors, but after I was treated by Dr. Hayes, I recommend him to everyone! He is absolutely the top in his field. He has treated me for problems for over a year now, always respecting my conservative preferences. I ended up having surgery and him and his staff were wonderful to me!