Your discs are a crucial component in the structure of your spine. They keep the vertebrae from rubbing together, by virtue of the gel-like substance they’re filled with. Acting as spongey partitions, when they fail, spinal balance and stability is lost and pain results.
But now, there’s a minimally invasive solution to back pain. Artificial disc replacement is that solution.
Nothing Lasts Forever
Our bodies are complex machines and as we all know, they don’t last forever. Like a car, parts need to be replaced to keep the machine running for as long as possible. Our discs are parts which (fortunately) can be replaced.
Artificial disc replacement: a minimally invasive solution to back pain is exactly what it sounds like – we remove the old, worn out discs and replace them, keeping your spine in balance and relieving the pain that’s been slowing you down.
The best part is that this is a minimally invasive procedure, meaning fewer opportunities for complications like infection to arise, due to the tiny incisions made for this type of surgical intervention.
Two Basic Types
The ADR is broken down into two basic categories – total disc replacement and nucleus disc replacement. How do they differ?
In the TDR type, the damaged disc is either completely or almost completely removed. In the NDR, the contents of your disc are removed, leaving the hard, outer casing in place.
What Are They Made of?
Disc replacements are made of either metal or plastic biopolymers, or a combination of the two. The TDR involves the use of two plates, one of which attaches to the vertebrae above the damaged disc and the other, to the vertebrae below it.
The advantage of this procedure is that mobility is retained, which is not the case with spinal fusion.
The NDR is accomplished using a biopolymer which mimics the qualities of the natural disc nucleus. To do this, a material which expands inside the disc is used, recreating the cushioning effect of the natural disc.
The Mobi-C device is used for disc replacements in the cervical (neck) area of the spine. Consisting of both metal and plastic, this style of disc replacement offers an uncomplicated procedure and like the others, enhanced mobility.
Depending on the nature of your disc problem, your doctor will discuss which of these procedures is best suited to resolving it.
Am I a Candidate?
Your candidacy for artificial disc replacement and the type of procedure best suited to your condition is determined in consultation with your doctor, with the assistance of findings from medical imaging diagnostics.
Discography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), X-ray and computed tomography (CT scan) are just some of the technologies which may be used. Your doctor will determine which is most adaptable to your condition based on your discussions about the type of pain you’re experiencing.
Because of the minimally invasive nature of ADR, recovery time is usually between 1 and 3 days, but this may vary.
Spine Consult NJ is a medical resource addressing all conditions of the spine. Contact us.