Spinal disc replacement surgery involves the removal of a deteriorating disc and replacing it with a prosthetic disc that is generally made out of metal, ceramic, and plastic. The procedure was developed as an alternative to spinal fusion surgery, in response to concerns that spinal fusion surgery permanently immobilizes sections of the spine and can lead to damage in surrounding areas of the spinal column.
For artificial disc surgery, the prosthetic disc used often has a ball-and-socket or a sandwich design. Hydrogel (water-insoluble gel) and polyethylene (plastic) are common materials for the inner nucleus of the disc, while cobalt chromium, titanium, or other metals make up the outside of the disc. Sometimes, a prosthetic disc also contains small metal “teeth” that can attach directly to bone, since one role of intervertebral discs is to join adjacent vertebrae together. This being the case, patients who want replacement disc surgery must have spinal bone that is strong enough to support the artificial disc.
After your spine disc surgery, your physician may do frequent x-rays to ensure that the new disc has not shifted or dislocated. Under a doctor’s supervision, you will also need to embark on a schedule of disc pain relief physical therapy so that you retain strength in your back and neck. Also keep in mind that, if you’re immobile for too long after surgery, certain muscles and joints have a tendency to “freeze” or spontaneously lock. Although your activity should be mild for the first days and weeks after the operation, staying sedentary will not help your body acclimate to the new prosthetic disc. Overall, you should try to maintain a healthy lifestyle both before and after your surgery. Harmful substances like nicotine, alcohol, and foods high in saturated fat will only make it that much more difficult for your body to readjust.
As with any operation, a spinal disc replacement surgery does come with risks. If you would like to find out about alternatives to disc replacement surgery or other disc surgeries, contact Laser Spine Institute (LSI) today. Our gentle, endoscopic procedures can help you get back on the path to an active lifestyle. We’ll be happy to review your MRI or CT scan, completely free of charge.