𝘾𝙚𝙧𝙫𝙞𝙘𝙖𝙡 𝘿𝙞𝙨𝙘 𝙍𝙚𝙥𝙡𝙖𝙘𝙚𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙩 (explained by an expert)
Top 5 Things to Consider for Artificial Disc Replacement Surgery
For patients with disc herniations in the cervical spine, a safe and reliable surgical option might be cervical disc replacement. Those that have the best outcomes are those that have FIRST tried non-surgical options.
1. What are the non-surgical options?
I have all of my patients enroll in a dedicated physical therapy program with a handful of specialists that I have worked with to strengthen and stretch certain neck muscles. There is a reason that insurance companies frequently require patients to have therapy prior to surgery- because this can work! Additionally, I could use non-narcotic medications that you can take orally to calm down the nerve pain and relax the muscle spasms. This of course does not take away the disc herniation, but it “buys time” while your body uses its own innate defense system of cells to slowly “eat away” that foreign disc material pushing on a nerve root! An targeted steroid injection with one of the pain specialists I exclusively work with is another modality that may calm down the nerve irritation, again in the background your body tries to remove part of the herniation. The timeline for how long this process takes is not always predictable, and those that don’t improve in a set timeframe would be candidates for outpatient surgery.
2. Will I lose range of motion?
Many studies prove there is not a clinically noticeable difference in range of motion for patients undergoing EITHER a 1-level cervical fusion or a 1-level cervical disc replacement. That said, yes- the range of motion will be better in a disc replacement patient compared to a neck fusion.
3. I always heard if I have one neck surgery, I’ll need another?! Will the other disc spaces wear out?
This is called Adjacent Segment Disease (ASD). The concept is similar to if someone fused your ankle and knee, the hip joint would take all of the stress! The benefit for a cervical disc replacement is that there is much less stress to these adjacent disc segments when you avoid a fusion! This ASD risk is even more profound when comparing 2 level replacements vs 2 level fusions!
4. If I have had a fusion, can this be changed into a disc replacement?
No. Once the bones are surgically fused, they stay fused!
5. When can I go back to XYX?
𝘿𝙤𝙣𝙣𝙖𝙡𝙡𝙮 𝘿𝙞𝙨𝙘 𝙍𝙚𝙥𝙡𝙖𝙘𝙚𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙩 𝙋𝙧𝙤𝙩𝙤𝙘𝙤𝙡
𝐒𝐚𝐦𝐞 𝐝𝐚𝐲: Start physical therapy
𝟏 𝐝𝐚𝐲: Go home | Shower
𝟑 𝐝𝐚𝐲𝐬: Drive (local)
𝟏 𝐰𝐞𝐞𝐤: Return to “desk” work | Get groceries
𝟒 𝐰𝐞𝐞𝐤: Return to physical labor work
𝟔 𝐰𝐞𝐞𝐤: Full golf swing allowed
𝟏𝟐 𝐰𝐞𝐞𝐤: Return to NFL, NHL, NBA