Most of us, unless we or someone we know has had to deal with the problem, may not be aware of options that modern medicine can now offer to relieve pain associated with the spine.
Today’s back surgeon understands that over 90% of people who suffer from cervical disc disease require nothing more than relatively simple treatment and will get better on their own. But when more serious intervention is called for, a neurosurgeon can rely upon knowledge of spinal biomechanics developed in the last thirty years, state-of-the-art instruments, the latest fusion techniques, and modern microsurgical methods to provide less invasive back surgery that can resolve any issue involving the spine.
An artificial cervical disc can be inserted between two vertebrae in the neck by the back surgeon as a replacement for a damaged disc. A major feature of the new disc is that it allows for continued motion, as opposed to a fusion procedure.
Other advantages of the artificial cervical disc is that it reduces degeneration of adjacent segments of the spine and avoids the complications often associated with bone grafting. The hospital stay is shorter, at an average of 2.7 days compared to 8.5 after a fusion procedure. In addition, a spine fusion can require anywhere from three months to a full year to become solid. And that means symptoms could persist until the process is complete, restricting daily activities for that period of time.
Studies indicate that from 250,000 to 500,000 Americans exhibit spinal stenosis symptoms caused by disc degeneration. Five of every 1,000 Americans over 50 is likely to need to see a cervical spine surgeon eventually. And 40% of the population without apparent symptoms can be revealed by MRI to have a herniated or bulging disc.
But now, at least, the back surgeon has treatment options available that are much less invasive and far less likely to cause continuing long-term problems for the patient.