Is Cervical Disc Replacement Right For You?
September 24, 2017 by: Luis Tumialan
Degenerative disc disease, also known as spondylosis, is an extremely common condition that refers to the age-related decline of the discs between the vertebrae in the spine. You may also hear it referred to as osteoarthritis of the spine. Although it sounds frightening, it is actually a very normal part of the aging process.
What are cervical discs?
Cervical discs can be found in between the vertebrae that make up our cervical spine, aka the part of the spine that is found in the neck. These discs have a hard, outer layer called the annulus fibrosus, and a soft, gel-like inner layer called the nucleus pulpous. They have two main purposes:
1. To act as a shock absorber for the cervical spine, absorbing the impact from our day to day movements and the pressure we place on it.
2. To enable a wide range of movement in the neck.
As we get older, these discs experience some wear and tear, which is largely a result of the stresses and trauma placed on it during daily – and unusual – activities. Advancing age also causes the discs to lose hydration, making them more likely to crack and tear. When this happens, it weakens the disc and increases the likelihood of further damage occurring.
Unfortunately, as the cervical discs have no blood supply of their own, they cannot heal themselves. Therefore, treatment in the form of a cervical disc replacement is often recommended to patients who are suffering from the negative effects of degenerative disc disease in the cervical spine.
What are the symptoms associated with cervical disc degeneration?
Symptoms associated with cervical disc degeneration may include:
- Pain in the neck, or that travels downwards into your shoulders and/or arms.
- Stiffness in the neck.
- Recurring headaches.
- Weakness in the shoulders, arms, hands or even legs.
- Tingling sensations or numbness in the arms
What is cervical disc replacement?
Cervical disc replacement surgery does exactly what its’ name suggests. The process involves removing the diseased disk from the cervical spine and replacing it with an artificial one. This allows the patient to maintain a good range of movement in the cervical spine and prevents him from experiencing more pain and negative effects from cervical discs that have degenerated.
Who is a candidate for cervical disc replacement?
Although cervical disc replacement is generally considered to be a very safe and successful surgery, it does not mean that it is the right choice of treatment for everyone. To ascertain whether or not cervical disc replacement is right for you, you will need to attend a consultation appointment with your surgeon.
However, typically a good candidate for cervical disc replacement would share some of the following characteristics:
- Must be an adult with mature, good quality cervical spine bones.
- Have tried a minimum of six weeks of non-surgical treatments which have either had no effect or exacerbated the condition.
- Be experiencing a range of neurological symptoms including numbness, weakness, tingling and/or pain.
- Have a good range of movement in the neck aside from the damaged disc.
- Be otherwise fit and healthy.
If you are interested in finding out more about cervical disc replacement, contact us and make an appointment at our warm, welcoming Scottsdale offices today.
If you are struggling with pain, weakness, loss of function, or other symptoms of spinal complications, contact Dr. Tumialán's office today.