Arm pain, neck pain and shoulder pain can be a debilitating side effect of cervical disc disease. Age, normal wear and tear, and genetics can all contribute to herniation, degeneration, or a damaged disc. This can cause pain, numbness, and weakness that may radiate into the shoulder and arm. When conservative treatment methods do not remedy the discomfort, surgical intervention may become necessary. Cervical disc replacement is a cutting-edge technology and effective treatment that preserves motion in the spine, while minimizing downtime.
What is a cervical arthroplasty?
Cervical total disc arthroplasty is a joint replacement procedure that uses an artificial disc between the vertebrae to replace a diseased or damaged disc. There are 33 vertebrae in the spine. In between each vertebrae is a cushion, also known as a disc. Damage, herniation and degeneration to the cervical disc can cause arm pain and neck pain and lack of range of motion that can range from moderate to severe. A cervical disc replacement surgery can be life-changing to those who suffer from cervical spine pain. Using a cervical artificial disc that mimics the characteristics of a healthy disc allows patients to maintain motion and alleviate pain without the need for traditional fusion surgery. The new cervical artificial disc essentially functions as a joint, supporting extension, rotation, and flexion of the neck. The goal of cervical disc replacement surgery is to relieve nerve compression of the spine while maintaining motion at the spinal level. Unlike traditional spine surgery where bones are fused together with plates and screws, the cervical artificial disc uses the body’s own natural biomechanics to retain motion when the neck moves. The surgery does not require bone grafts or plates, and there is less downtime than traditional cervical surgery. Patients report a dramatic reduction in arm pain, neck pain and weakness within hours of surgery.
Why might I need cervical arthroplasty?
The discs of the cervical spine are important for the mobility and functionality of the neck. Over time, discs may become compressed, damaged, dried out, or damaged. Cervical disc degeneration may also result in bone spurs. Bone spurs are smooth projections of extra bone, usually where two bones meet in a joint.
When it comes to cervical spine pain, patients typically respond well to non-surgical treatments such as neck braces, physical therapy, or injection-based treatments. Cervical disc arthroplasty is a surgery that may be needed when more conservative methods have failed to treat symptoms. To be considered for a neck disc replacement, you need to meet some specific criteria. Good candidates for arthroplasty will have a single disc herniation with normal spinal motion at the disc. Some patients have disc degeneration in two of the cervical spine discs; surgery is still possible for these candidates. Cervical disc replacement surgery may be a good treatment option if you:
– Have been diagnosed with myelopathy or cervical radiculopathy
– Have disc herniation or bone spurs
– Have confirmed cervical disc disease
– Failed conservative treatment methods
– Are in good health with no signs of arthritis, osteoporosis or infection
What can I expect during and after cervical arthroplasty?
The main goal of a cervical artificial disc surgery is to remove a portion or all of a damaged cervical disc. This surgery is used to relieve pressure on the nerves and spinal cord. The second part of the surgery is inserting the replacement discs into the empty cervical disc space.
You will be given anesthesia to put you to sleep during the surgery. There will be no pain or discomfort felt during the surgery. Your surgeon will make a small incision through the front of your neck to carefully expose the area of the spine. The surgeon will then remove the cervical disc (cervical discectomy), and replace the empty disc space with a cervical artificial disc. An x-ray is often used to confirm the precise position of the cervical disc replacement, and then the neck incision is closed. Some patients may be able to leave the hospital the same day as the disc replacement surgery, while others may be discharged the following morning.
What are the possible complications of artificial cervical disc replacement?
A cervical disc arthroplasty is a relatively safe procedure, but as with any surgery, there are risks of complications. Risks can be minimized by choosing an experienced surgeon and adhering to your surgeon’s pre and post-operative instructions. General complications from surgery may include infection, blood loss, and reactions to the anesthesia. Rare complications include allergic reaction to the cervical artificial disc, artificial disc migration, paralysis, and neck or arm pain.
How long is the recovery period after cervical disc replacement surgery?
Typically, there is some discomfort in the weeks and months following cervical arthroplasty surgery. Pain and soreness at the incision site or trouble swallowing may be present, but usually go away in time. Your surgeon may recommend a cervical collar for up to a week after arthroplasty. For the first few days, it is recommended to relax and limit activities. If pain levels are high, a narcotic drug administration may be necessary for a week or two after surgery. Cervical artificial disc replacement surgery recovery can vary widely from patient to patient. Most people are able to return to light duty work one week after surgery, while some require up to four weeks to return to more strenuous jobs. Some patients may be advised to enroll in a physical therapy program to maintain range of motion and regain strength and flexibility to the spine.
When conservative treatment methods are ineffective, surgical intervention may be necessary. Using state of the art technology, many surgeries are now completed through smaller and less painful incisions. We are now offering minimally invasive spine surgery at Performance Rehabilitation and Regenerative Medicine. For more information about Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery and to take the first step to living your life fully without pain please call one of our Patient Care Coordinators at 908-754-1960 or book a consultation with our highly recognized Nuerosurgeon today!