The Vault

For the average people, the most basic understanding of the spine is that it is simply made up of a number of vertebrae stacked on top of one another. But the truth is,  the spine is far more complicated than just a few dozen bones lined up in a row. The space between each of those vertebrae is filled with a soft, shock absorbing structures called discs that enables us to bend. Over time, these spinal discs can  break down due to normal wear and tear or as the result of other factors. We call this spine condition as degenerative disc disease.

Physicians usually recommend conservative (non-surgical) options as the first line of defence from degenerative disc disease. Conservative treatments aim to relieve pain and restoring motion which may include physical therapy, chiropractic treatments, injections, or  other medications that can reduce pain and inflammation. Surgery is only recommended when conservative therapy to resolve the pain is unsuccessful.

Spine Fusion has been the preferred surgical treatment for degenerative disc disease. It removes damaged disc material and permanently “lock” two or more of the spine’s vertebrae together so they can move as one fused unit as well as to eliminate pain.When it comes to surgical spine procedure, pain elimination and movement restoration are two top goals. However, spinal fusion does have disadvantages such as loss of motion and flexibility. It can increase the risk of other discs above and below the fused segment to be more burdened over time and to degenerate faster – leading to more pain and more surgery.

Artificial disc replacement surgery has been developed to minimize the disadvantage and risks of spinal fusion.  It offers an alternative to the standard spinal fusion procedure since it is reversible and directly replaces the damaged discs themselves. This procedure often leads to a better quality of life down the road.

While artificial disc replacement can be a better option, it can’t be applied for everyone. If you’re suffering from spondylolisthesis, osteoporosis, a previous spinal fracture, and other conditions that may affect the strength and integrity of your spine, this procedure may not be a good idea. As with any other types of surgical procedure, there are also risks with this procedure. Make sure to talk to your expert spine surgeon at Spine Center of Texas to help you understand and discuss such risks.

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