Spinal discs are one of the most vulnerable components of the spine. They are not made of had bone tissue but instead, they are flexible, rubber-like shells containing a soft, gel-like center. They absorb the impact of daily movements and can eventually become weak. A weakened disc may undergo degeneration that causes shifting and bulging which can impact nearby spinal nerves. Patients who are suffering from this type of damage – normally referred to as a herniated disc or slipped disc – will experience severe pain in the area of the spine affected, as well as possible symptoms in the extremities, such as numbness in the fingers or a tingling sensation down one or both legs. In some cases, disc replacement surgery is necessary to remove the damaged, weakened spinal disc and insert a biocompatible artificial replacement. This type of surgery may be favorable over spinal fusion surgery, which fuses two vertebrae together after a damaged disc has been removed. With a flexible artificial disc in place, it is possible to retain more natural movement in the spine.
Symptoms and Causes of Slipped and Herniated Discs
Most patients who experience a slipped or herniated disc are older, as degeneration of the spine naturally occurs with age. However, there are other risk factors that can contribute to disc injuries, such as:
- Being overweight
- Working a physically demanding job
- Suffering an acute back injury from lifting a large or heavy object
- Living a sedentary lifestyle
Slipped and herniated discs are most common in the cervical and lumbar regions of the spine, or the neck and lower back. If you have a slipped or herniated disc, you might regularly experience:
- Pain that is worse at night or after long periods of standing or sitting
- Pain while walking short distances
- Pain and numbness in the arms and fingers or in the legs and toes
- Tingling, aching, or burning sensations in the extremities
How Disc Replacement Surgery Works
Disc replacement surgery resolves pain and other symptoms by relieving pressure on nearby nerves and restoring the healthy structure of the spine. Disc replacement may take place in the cervical or lumber spine, and it will preserve more natural movement and mobility than spinal fusion surgery. In cervical disc replacement surgery, the spine surgeon will access the damaged disc through the front of the spine with an anterior approach. With lumbar disc replacement, a posterior approach is necessary. In both cases, the surgeon will remove the damaged disc material and insert an artificial disc that mimics the structure of a natural, healthy spinal disc.
Why Choose Us for Disc Replacement
If your primary care physician has recommended seeing a spine surgeon for your herniated disc symptoms, you can find personalized treatment and an individualized approach with Next Generation Orthopedic and Spine Institute. Our surgeon, Dr. Anthony Owusu, is a fellowship-trained spine surgeon specializing in minimally-invasive procedures for optimal recoveries and effective healing.
Contact Us to Find Relief Today
For further inquiries, please give us a call or leave us a message.