If you are considering neck surgery, knowing the top 3 signs for cervical disc replacement are important. Cervical disc arthroplasty, also known as cervical artificial disc replacement, can provide many benefits for patients with chronic neck pain. In this blog post, I highlight the top three signs that cervical disc replacement may be right for you. This post is the third in a four-part series:
- What are the most common types of neck pain and when should you seek medical care?
- Is cervical disc replacement a good spine surgery for neck pain?
- Today’s post: Three signs cervical disc replacement might be right for you.
- Coming March 21 : What can I expect from neck surgery recovery time?
While anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is the more traditional approach to neck surgery, disc replacement surgery is becoming more popular. Both procedures have fantastic outcomes for people of all ages, and it’s important to discuss the benefits and risks of both procedures with your Denver spine surgeon.
There are many reasons why cervical disc replacement surgery for neck pain could help revolutionize your life. Are you wondering if this surgery is right for you? Keep reading to learn all about the top 3 signs you may need a cervical disc replacement.
1. Symptoms of a Herniated Disc
One of the most common reasons people undergo cervical disc replacement is because they’ve been diagnosed with a C5-C6 disc herniation. Disc herniation also can occur at other levels, including C6-C7, but is most common at C5-C6.
To understand what a herniated disc is, you must picture the anatomy of the spine. Each disc in a spine has a soft center that is like jelly. This is wrapped in a rubber-like material known as the annulus. A herniated disc occurs when some of the soft center leaks out.
Are you wondering how this can happen? This occurs when the annulus is breached through wear and tear or because of another type of injury or illness. In some cases, the herniated disc can end up affecting the nerves within the spine. This can cause chronic pain, numbness, or fatigue in your arms and hands.
These symptoms from a herniated disc tend to be localized on one side of the body. Sometimes, a herniated disc doesn’t produce any symptoms. If you do experience tingling or numbness, for instance, then you should see a healthcare provider as soon as possible. At Neurosurgery One, we have opened a comprehensive spine clinic that allows you to be seen by one of our advanced practice providers within three days. This provider can obtain imaging, such as an X-ray or MRI, which is needed to make an accurate diagnosis and refer you to the proper treatment.
The good news is that most people do not need surgery for herniated discs. However, this initial exam and imaging will allow your Denver spine surgeon at Neurosurgery One to determine if you could benefit from an artificial disc replacement.
2. Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease
While almost everyone’s spinal discs wear down with age, not everyone experiences painful symptoms as a result. Pain suggests that you might be suffering from degenerative disc disease. The word “degenerative” in this medical phrase refers to how the discs in the spine wear down with normal use over the years.
While your spinal discs have high water content when you are born, the discs lose water as you age and eventually start to dry out. As they dry out, they also become flatter, which makes them less capable of absorbing the shocks of natural movement.
There’s a range of symptoms you can experience with degenerative disc disease. For degenerative disc disease that occurs in the neck, symptoms may include aching in your hand, arm, or neck. This type of pain is known as discogenic pain. Discogenic pain in the neck can be ongoing or it can come and go from day to day, week to week, or month to month.
Degenerative disc disease in the neck that is causing discogenic pain and only affects one or two cervical levels could warrant cervical disc replacement. In some cases, degenerative disc disease is a result of osteoarthrosis or it affects multiple levels of the spine. In these instances, an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion may be the only viable surgical option.
3. Physical Therapy or Other Conservative Treatments Aren’t Working to End Your Neck Pain
If you’ve tried physical therapy for 6 months or more and aren’t seeing results, then a cervical disc replacement might be right for you. The same is true if you have tried other non-surgical measures, like massage therapy or acupuncture, and interventional pain management procedures have been ruled out.
If you have an active lifestyle or a job that demands some degree of neck movement, you’ll be glad to know that a cervical disc replacement might be able to help. Disc replacement reduces the chances of you needing another spine surgery down the road, and it helps ensure you have full range of motion. This is particularly important for younger adults who experience chronic neck pain or trauma.
Ready for a Cervical Disc Replacement?
Now that you’ve learned all about the top 3 signs that might indicate that you need a cervical disc replacement, you have more knowledge to talk to your physician about whether or not you may be a candidate for the surgery. I strive to help my patients remain active. In Colorado, this often means ensuring people can hike, ski, or bike as long as they desire. Cervical disc replacement, or arthroplasty, is an effective, safe option for many people with one of the signs above, but keep in mind that not everyone with one of the signs above will benefit from the surgery nor would I recommend it. It’s important that if you feel like you may be a candidate for disc replacement surgery, you select a Denver spine surgeon who understands your goals.
At Neurosurgery One, my colleagues and I handle a wide range of medical issues, including back pain, neck pain, facial pain, and we are happy to provide second opinions.