Like many bodily structures, your spinal discs are prone to degeneration over the years. Repetitive stress and physical trauma all serve to wear down these tough spinal discs, and if enough degeneration occurs, it can cause the discs or vertebrae to shift and compress some key structures. Physical therapy and regular exercise can help treat many damaged discs, but for more serious cases, surgery is the best bet.
When it comes to addressing a spinal disc issue with an operation, there are two main types of operations – spinal fusion and disc replacement. A fusion operation involves fusing two vertebrae together to take stress off the disc and prevent it from shifting, but it isn’t a perfect solution. More surgeons are now pushing for artificial disc replacement in patients who would be good candidates. Below, we take a look at some of the benefits of artificial disc replacement surgery.
The Benefits of Artificial Spinal Discs
Artificially created discs have numerous benefits over the traditional spinal fusion operation. Some of the benefits of having an artificial disc inserted in place of a degenerative disc include:
1. More Mobility – Because an artificial disc is designed to mimic a healthy spinal disc, it will provide many of the same movement functions in the spine. A fusion operation limits spinal mobility, while an artificial disc replacement helps you maintain spinal flexibility and mobility.
2. Preserves Other Disc Function – Because the artificial disc helps maintain the natural flexibility of the spine, it actually works to preserve the health of other spinal discs. With fusion, because that segment can’t bend naturally, more stress is channeled to the neighboring vertebral discs. Artificial disc replacement reduces your risk of having future disc issues at other spinal segments.
3. Safe and Long Lasting – Thanks to improvements in medical technology, artificial discs are safe to implant and are very durable, meaning it’s unlikely that the disc will break or need a secondary surgery in the future.
4. No Bone Grafts – Traditional spinal fusion operation involves the use of bone grafts, which carries some potential risks and complications. An artificial disc replacement operation does not use bone grafts.
5. Quick Recovery – For most patients, recovery from disc replacement takes less time than a fusion operation. Many patients are back to full vigorous activity like running within three months.
If you think you might be a candidate for artificial disc replacement, or you want to learn more about the procedure, reach out to Dr Chang’s office today.