What is a Cervical Disc?
Cervical discs are the gel-like shock absorbers between the vertebrae in the neck. They not only absorb shocks in the cervical spine – the seven vertebrae in the neck; they also enable the neck to handle various stresses and different ranges of motion.
Problems with discs can restrict the range of motion within the neck and cause pain, numbness or weakness. This can be limited to the neck but also spread to the shoulders, head, arms, and even the hands. Chronic neck pain might leave the affected area sensitive to touch and painful when pressure is applied.
The body’s reaction to a disrupted disc may also be the formation of bone spurs called osteophytes. These bone spurs can also cause pressure on the nerve roots or the special cord causing unwanted neck pain.
When conservative measures fail to stop the pain, patients might consider replacing the diseased disc with a safe, sterile, stronger replacement. This procedure is known as cervical disc replacement.
What is cervical disc replacement?
Cervical disc replacement is a procedure that involves removing a damaged cervical disc and replacing it with artificial material. During this procedure, the surgeon makes a small incision at the front of the neck. This allows him or her to remove the damaged disc and replace it with a new one.
Cervical disc replacement relieves pressure and ensures that the disc is in the right place.
Minimally invasive procedures keep the incision size to the width of a magic marker. During the procedure, muscle and tissue are spread apart, rather than cut. This makes recovery much easier than traditional open surgery.
Many patients feel relief in as little as a few hours following the surgery. Pain from the procedure is usually limited to the incision itself and significantly improves within a few days. Full recovery takes a few weeks.
Are you a candidate for a cervical disc replacement?
If you are experiencing symptoms of cervical disc disease, or chronic neck pain, see a board-certified pain management specialist for a full evaluation and review of your x-ray or MRI. Only then will you know what is causing the pain and learn the treatments available for your particular condition.