Disc Replacement and Nonfusion Technologies
Herniated cervical disc is a neck condition caused by a tear in one of the intervertebral discs causing the disc contents to bulge out. The bulging section of the disc places pressure on nerve roots (nerve root compression) or the spinal cord causing radiculopathy. Radiculopathy is a medical term used to describe the neurological deficits that can occur from pressure on the nerves and spinal cord, such as arm or finger weakness, numbness or pain.
Other conditions that can cause nerve root compression and radiculopathy include:
- Degenerative Disc Disease: A condition caused by wear and tear on the discs between the vertebrae causing them to lose their cushioning ability.
- Spinal Stenosis: Narrowing of the spinal canal as we age, most commonly due to degenerative arthritis.
- Degenerative Spondylolisthesis: This condition is degeneration (wear and tear) of the vertebral components, usually occurring after age 50, causing slippage of a vertebra onto another, leading to spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal.
When conservative treatment measures such as rest, medication, physical therapy, and pain blocking injections are ineffective, your surgeon may recommend cervical spine surgery.
The most common spine surgery to relieve symptoms of nerve root compression involves removing the disc and fusing the two vertebrae above and below it with a bone graft. A newer treatment option is now available to replace the herniated disc with an artificial disc. Artificial discs are used in place of a bone fusion to preserve neck movement and flexibility.
Benefits of artificial discs over fusion surgery include:
- No need for instrumentation (plates and screws)
- Shorter healing time with no waiting for fusion to occur
- No bone harvesting from hip which requires an incision, pain, and risks.
- Reduced risk of degeneration of adjacent vertebrae
- Maintain normal neck movement
- No post operative neck bracing needed
As with any surgery, there are risks involved. It is important you discuss the benefits and risks to make an informed decision on moving forward with the surgery. Talk to your surgeon about any questions you may have.