Cervical discs act as cushions or shock absorbers between the bones of the neck and back, or the vertebrae. If the discs are damaged, they can move out of their normal position and apply pressure on the central spinal cord or the nerve roots. This can cause neck pain, tingling sensations and numbness in the arms.
Cervical disc replacement surgery involves the replacement of an injured or degenerated cervical disc with an artificial device. This process helps maintain all forms of motion and has been found to have positive long-term clinical outcomes.
Given the advantages of this procedure, it is easy to see why patients are seeking cervical total disc replacement.
Artificial disc replacement surgery takes place under a general anesthesia, which means the patient is put to sleep. The procedure takes between one and two hours, followed by a three to four-day hospital stay. The artificial disc is designed as two metal end plates, between which may be found medical grade polyethylene or plastic or gel-like substances, much like a sandwich. After a general anesthesia the first step, is to remove the diseased disc before installing the replacement. For a total disc replacement in the lower back, a type of disc prosthesis may be used which consists of two metal plates surrounding a mobile core made of plastic.
- Artificial disc surgery has lesser chances of requiring a revision surgery, compared to spinal fusion surgery
- Normal neck motion can be maintained
- Unlike the spinal fusion surgery the adjacent spinal discs in case of cervical disc replacement don’t have to bear the extra stress .
- Eliminates the need for a painful bone graft
- Recovery time is quicker compared to the fusion surgery.
How long is the recovery after artificial disc replacement surgery?
Most people spend one or two nights in the hospital. You may require an extra day or two if for some reason you’re having extra pain or unexpected difficulty. Patients generally recover quickly after an artificial disc replacement. You should be able to get out of bed and walk within a few days. Some people wear a corset or brace for support. As you recover in the hospital, a physical therapist may see you to start you on a few gentle exercises.
You’ll also start a walking program that you are encouraged to continue when you get back home. When you leave the hospital, you should be safe to sit, and walk. Your surgeon will see you within a month to do an X-ray to make sure the disc is in place and holding steady. However, you should avoid lifting things for at least four weeks. You can often return to work after your surgeon has evaluated you, as long as your job does not include heavy lifting. It should be noted that a successful result of the disc replacement means that back symptoms are better but not necessarily perfect. Most studies show that 70 to 80 percent of patients have significantly less back pain and greatly improved function with the operation.
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