The cushioning structures between each of the vertebra of your spine are called discs. Made of tissue similar to cartilage, the discs are flexible so that your spine can bend. When one or more of your discs are damaged, it can cause significant pain and inability to perform your daily routine. When you visit NYC Spine Surgeon Dr. Fischer at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City for back problems related to your discs, you might learn that the solution is implanting an artificial disc into your spine that simulates your real disc, allowing you to move freely and carrying the load of your body.
Types of disc replacement
There are two main types of disc replacement. Total disc replacement involves removing most or all of the disc tissue between the vertebra and implanting a replacement device into the space. Disc nucleus replacement involves removing only the center of a disc and replacing that area with an implant, leaving the outer part of your real disc intact. An accurate diagnosis by Dr. Fischer allows the correct type of replacement to be identified.
Materials for artificial discs
Artificial discs are typically created from metal or plastic (biopolymer) materials, or a combination of the two. Used in the body for many years, these materials are proven to be safe and effective. These innovative artificial discs allow smooth and comfortable motion, much like a normally functioning real disc.
Candidates for artificial discs
Back pain can have many different causes. It is vital to obtain an accurate diagnosis after having tests such as an MRI to identify if a disc is the root cause of your problem and to pinpoint exactly which disc or discs are affected. Once NYC Spine Surgeon Dr. Fischer knows the specifics of your disc problem, non-operative treatments like physical therapy, injections, medication, spinal manipulation, and activity modification will usually be the first course of action. If your pain is severe for an extended period and alternative treatments aren’t effective, surgery may be recommended. Disc replacement surgery cannot be performed on every patient, often excluding those with conditions such as pregnancy, morbid obesity, spinal infection, osteoporosis, spondylolisthesis, vertical fracture, or autoimmune disease. Dr. Fischer at NYU Langone Medical Center can help you determine if you are a good candidate for artificial disc replacement.
Benefits of artificial disc replacement
The traditional solution for most disc problems requiring surgery is spinal fusion, which places bone between vertebra after removing the damaged disc. One drawback to this technique is that motion is eliminated in that area of the spine. Although your pain will be improved, your mobility will be impacted. Artificial discs, however, can allow normal motion. Another benefit of artificial disc replacement is reducing the risk of increased wear and tear on your spine that sometimes accompanies spinal fusion. Finally, artificial disc replacement provides a quicker return to normal activities. If you are experiencing pain related to a damaged disc, speak with Dr. Fischer about your options to learn if artificial disc replacement can help you.