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Disc Replacement Surgery

If you experience weakening or damage to an intervertebral disc, it can significantly impact your spine’s alignment. This may result in chronic pain that persists despite at-home treatment, physical therapy, chiropractic, and other non-surgical treatments. For these cases, the two recommended procedures are cervical disc replacement and lumbar disc replacement. During these surgeries, a skilled spine surgeon removes the damaged disc and replaces it with an artificial one. Benefit from the expertise of the best cervical disc replacement surgeons at Gottlieb Spine. We offer this proven technique to help alleviate your pain and restore your optimal spinal health.

Normal Discs vs Injured Discs

The spine consists of bony vertebrae, discs, nerves, and other structures. The vertebrae, which stack up to create your spinal column, surround and protect your spinal cord. The discs are located between each vertebra. 

Discs consist of a fibrous outer layer (annulus) surrounding a gelatinous center (nucleus). They allow motion between vertebrae, act as shock absorbers, and distribute the stress and strain placed on your spine. When a disk weakens, the outer layer may not be able to hold the center of the disc in place and the disc may “bulge” which can irritate nerves. 

In advanced cases, it may rupture, or herniate, through the annulus and pinch the spinal nerves. This can cause numbness, weakness, and/or neck or back pain, which can radiate down the arm into the hand or can cause difficulty with fine motor movements. If pressure on the spinal nerves continues, nerve damage can occur and cause either numbness or muscle weakness as well.

What is Disc Replacement Surgery?

Spinal disc replacement effectively replaces painful discs that impact your quality of life. With age, intervertebral discs between your vertebrae suffer from wear and tear, disease, injuries, and more. All of these ailments can be addressed with disc replacement surgery. 

When a cervical disc can no longer function properly, our cervical disc replacement surgeons will use this procedure to help your spine return to normal functionality. Cervical disc replacement surgery ensures spinal flexibility and movement in the neck and upper part of the spine, as the cushioning discs between the vertebrae are replaced with either metal or plastic artificial discs.

Artificial Disc Replacement (in the lumbar spine)

Artificial Cervical Disc Replacement

Do I Need Disc Replacement Surgery?

If you’re suffering from chronic neck or back pain and traditional therapies have not provided relief, you may be considering surgical options like cervical disc replacement. While not everyone is a suitable candidate for surgery and may be able to find relief from their pain without surgery, this procedure is effective in reducing pain, restoring mobility, and improving the quality of life for many patients. 

As with any spine surgery, there are potential complications and recovery time to consider. Surgery and anesthesia involve stresses to many organs and tissues in the body. Incisions and the handling of tissues during spine surgery can result in issues like spinal cord or nerve root injury, dural tear, infection, airway compromise, and other complications. The benefits of surgery should be carefully weighed against these risks. It’s important to consult with the best cervical disc replacement surgeons at Gottlieb Spine to determine the best course of action.

What Conditions Does Disc Replacement Surgery Treat?

Disc replacement surgery addresses many different types of disc injuries and problems, including:

  • Degenerative disc disease: As we age, spinal discs naturally deteriorate, losing their cushioning ability. This degeneration can lead to neck or back pain.
  • Herniated disc:When a disc bulges, slips, or ruptures, it releases the gel-like inner substance into the area surrounding the spinal canal. This can lead to irritation of your nerves.
  • Spinal cord injuries: Sudden impact or trauma to your spine can result in damage to the spinal column, which protects the spinal cord. If an intervertebral disc is damaged as well, it can lead to significant and life-altering symptoms. 
  • Sciatic nerve pain: When sciatica is a result of a herniated disc, replacing the injured disc is a long-lasting solution to the sciatic nerve pain
  • Stenosis: An injured disc can cause material to leak into the the spinal column, narrowing the space inside and increasing pressure on your spinal cord.
  • Radiculopathy: If you have degenerative disc disease with radiculopathy, artificial disc replacement is used by cervical disc replacement surgeons as an alternative to spinal fusion following decompression surgery.

What Happens During Disc Replacement Surgery?

The surgery involves a small incision made along the affected area of the spine. Dr. Gottlieb protects the nerve roots and safely removes the herniated disc, eliminating pressure on the nerve. Then, the surgeon will determine the necessary size of the artificial disc by using a template. Next, the device will be implanted. Unlike fusion, these devices have motion kinematics similar to natural discs.

The surgery typically lasts 2–2½ hours, depending on the number of discs operated upon, whether or not previous surgery has been performed, and the severity of pressure on the nerves. Blood loss is minimal so no blood donations are necessary before the operation. Time spent in the hospital is brief, and most patients can go home one to two days after the surgery.

Rehabilitation and Exercises After Disc Replacement Surgery

Adequate rehabilitation is crucial for a successful result. Many patients with spinal injuries have suffered from spinal pain for some time. This may result in considerable weakening of the spinal muscles due to lack of exercise, so you should return to your normal activities slowly.

The primary form of rehabilitation after surgery is an aggressive walking program. You should start immediately after discharge, walking more and more each day. In general, we recommend two to three episodes of exercise per day. The average patient can be walking 15 minutes twice a day by their first postoperative visit and 30–40 minutes twice a day by six weeks after surgery. Walk more if you are so inclined!

What Should I Expect After Disc Replacement Surgery?

Patients routinely experience a dramatic, remarkable reduction in their pain following artificial cervical disc replacement surgery. If the nerve has been irritated for a long time, then a more gradual reduction of the pain is to be expected. As the nerve heals, expect tingling or a warm feeling. 

Depending on how long the symptoms have been present, strength is usually the second symptom to improve. Any associated numbness will be the last to resolve and, if present for long enough before surgery, may be permanent.

Any pain associated with the incision is largely improved within two to three weeks. Increased pain with prolonged sitting and driving is also expected and, for safety reasons, we recommend refraining from driving for approximately three weeks.

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Top Quality Care at Gottlieb Spine

Do not continue living with debilitating neck or back pain when the best cervical disc replacement surgeons are nearby in Irving. Contact Gottlieb Spine today to find out if you’re a candidate for disc replacement surgery.



Irving, TX

6121 STATE HWY 161, #225
IRVING, TX 75038