If you have chronic back pain and you've tried several treatments under the care of a doctor, it may be time for back surgery. Your doctor might recommend an artificial disc replacement. This surgery removes your old damaged discs and replaces them with artificial discs. This eliminates or reduces your pain.
Here's what the artificial disc replacement procedure entails.
Why A Disc Replacement May Be Better Than a Fusion
A spinal fusion is a common type of surgery for damaged spinal discs. This surgery fuses the damaged area of your spine with the discs above and below the bad disc. The procedure often puts stress on other discs and may even contribute to back pain since your spinal movement is unnatural after the surgery.
A disc replacement replaces the bad disc so your spine has normal range of motion. This allows you to resume most of your usual activities and increases the chance you'll be free from back pain after you've gone through back surgery.
You May Need A Hospital Stay
Depending on the circumstances of your surgery, you might have an outpatient procedure, but it's common to stay in the hospital a few days after having an artificial disc replacement procedure. You'll probably be given general anesthesia, so you'll sleep throughout the surgery. The surgeon may make the incision from the front of your body to reach your spine without disturbing your spinal nerves. Several discs can be replaced at the same time if needed.
You'll Start Moving As Soon As Possible
Your doctor may have a physical therapist treat you while you're in the hospital so you start moving as soon as you can. Movement can help you heal properly, although you shouldn't be too aggressive. The doctor or therapist teaches you how to exercise in the days following your surgery so you help your back heal without putting too much stress on it.
It will probably take a few months to heal fully from an artificial disc replacement procedure. When you've healed, you should have full range of motion of your back and spine. Most of your pain should be gone, and you can often resume your usual activities, including playing sports, as long as you've been cleared to do so by your doctor.
An artificial disc replacement procedure isn't for everyone. Your doctor has to evaluate the condition of your bones and general health. Your weight and age may also factor into your doctor's decision on the right type of back surgery you should have. As long as you're a match for the procedure, a disc replacement might be the solution you need for your chronic back pain.