Artificial disc replacement is a technology that’s really been out for just over a decade in the United States. We often will utilize it for patients who have irritated nerves that cause pain down the arm. It’s performed typically through an incision through the front of the neck, in typically a same-day or go-home-the-next-day type surgery.
Minimally invasive surgery can be utilized throughout the spine. When it applies to surgery in the front of the neck, such as utilizing disc replacement, the focus of minimally invasive surgery is to minimize the amount of tissue disruption and surgery that the patient has to go through. By doing that, we can minimize their recovery and we can maximize their return to function in the fastest time possible.
When you look at disc replacement, you have a surgery that provides motion back to a joint in the spine once you’ve addressed the pinched nerve or the neck pain that’s responsible for that pathology.
Artificial disc replacement is a great technology. It doesn’t solve all problems. But some of the problems it does solve are in patients who have a pinched nerve from a herniated disc or a bone spur that’s causing arm pain. It can also help patients with chronic or acute neck pain.
Artificial disc replacement has been around now for about two decades in the public market. We believe it’s a long-term answer for patients because it provides not only immediate relief of their symptoms, but the overall technology appears to last patients for many, many decades to come.
For patients who have ongoing neck pain or arm pain, it’s worth talking to your surgeon about the possibility of artificial disc replacement. It may not be for all patients, but for those that it is indicated for, it’s a phenomenal surgery that allows patients to be out of pain and return to function and really have a maintenance of a quality of life that they didn’t have prior to surgery.