The cervical spine — the part of the spinal column commonly known as the neck — is comprised of seven bones called cervical vertebrae. Between the vertebrae lie cervical discs, which, much like the discs found throughout the rest of the spine, act as a cushion between the vertebrae and absorb shock, allowing the neck to move freely.
A damaged or diseased cervical disc may fail to adequately protect nerves and vertebrae in the cervical spine, causing the intervertebral space to become too narrow and the vertebrae or cervical disc to put pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerves. Wear and tear on the body is a common cause of this loss of space between the cervical vertebrae, which can result in symptoms including pain, stiffness, headache, numbness and/or weakness. For reasons currently unknown to medical experts, not every person who experiences cervical disc disease or degeneration will experience severe symptoms.
Cervical disc replacement may be recommended to patients who do experience uncomfortable and painful cervical disc disease symptoms that don’t improve or resolve with nonsurgical treatments. Here are some frequently asked questions that patients often have regarding the cervical disc replacement procedure.
What is cervical disc replacement?
Cervical disc replacement is a surgical procedure approved by the FDA to treat a patient’s cervical disc disease symptoms of pain, numbness and/or weakness from that do not resolve or improve with nonsurgical forms of treatment. During the procedure, the damaged or degenerated cervical disc is removed and replaced with an artificial disc.
Are there nonsurgical options for cervical disc disease treatment?
Prior to recommending cervical disc surgery, your spine doctor may recommend a nonsurgical approach to cervical disc recovery, including physical therapy, medications and/or spinal injection procedures. If symptoms do not improve in a few months, cervical disc replacement may be recommended.
What is the cervical disc replacement device?
Most commonly, the cervical disc replacement device is comprised of two metallic surfaces that are attached to the upper and lower vertebra in the affected area, allowing the metal plates to slide against each other. These two metal pieces may also be separated by medical grade plastic, allowing motion between the two vertebrae.
Is cervical disc replacement the best option?
Cervical disc replacement surgery is a newer option available in the United States for cervical disc recovery. The procedure offers some benefits over traditional cervical fusion surgery, including allowing for continued motion between the affected vertebrae. Additionally, cervical disc replacement surgery does not require bone grafting and may result in a faster recovery period, reducing the cervical collar immobilization period to one week or less, compared to the standard four to six weeks after fusion surgery.
Who is a candidate for cervical disc replacement?
Patients who have been diagnosed with cervical disc disease and whose symptoms have not improved with nonsurgical treatment options may be candidates for cervical disc replacement surgery. If you experience neck pain, stiffness, numbness or weakness in your arms and traditional therapies have not improved your condition, talk to your spine doctor today to learn if you may be a candidate for cervical disc replacement.
For more information about cervical disc replacement, contact Houston’s spine doctor, Dr. Vivek P. Kushwaha, today.