5 Signs It May Be Time to Consider Artificial Disc Replacement

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5 Signs It May Be Time to Consider Artificial Disc Replacement

Low back and neck pain wreaks havoc across the world. Remarkably, an estimated 1.71 billion people have musculoskeletal issues worldwide, with low back pain taking the dubious top spot and neck pain being the second most common musculoskeletal disorder. In the United States, about 60-80% of American adults will experience back pain, and 20-70% suffer neck pain sometime during their lifetime.

These musculoskeletal issues often disrupt healthy mobility, making even the simplest tasks like walking or standing painful. But that’s not all. Back pain is the number one cause of sick days and, in some cases, early retirement.  

But where can you turn when non-surgical treatments fail? It may be time to consider minimally invasive surgery like artificial disc replacement, says our fellowship-trained Neil Bhamb, MD, and renowned expert on cervical artificial disc replacement.   

The spine and your overall health

Most of us don’t give a second thought to our spine until we sustain an injury or experience back pain. The spine is one of the most important and underappreciated human body parts. We couldn’t walk or even stand without a healthy spine.

The spine employs the assistance of 33-stacked vertebrae with about 220 ligaments, 120 muscles, and 100 joints. The spine performs two vital functions – to support your body and to protect the spinal cord. 

Essentially, the spinal cord is a highway of nerves that links your brain with the rest of your body, controlling your movements and orchestrating the healthy function of internal organs and systems. When your spine is healthy, it allows you to breathe, digest, and keep your chemistry functioning optimally, contributing to your mood, metabolism, and even healthy growth and development.

When conservative treatment options fail

Turning to surgical treatment options is generally never a first step but instead becomes a serious consideration when all other non-surgical treatment options have been exhausted. Usually, the first line of treatment includes:

  • Physical therapy
  • Lifestyle modifications
  • Medication

If your pain persists, your provider may recommend epidural steroid injections or acupuncture. However, if none of these treatment modalities make a dent in your pain after several months, it may be time to consider a surgical solution like artificial disc replacement.

Signs for artificial disc replacement

Not surprisingly, chronic back pain and neck pain caused by degenerative disc disease or herniated discs can be difficult to treat through conservative treatment modalities.

With issues in the cervical spine or neck area, the cervical discs — shock absorbers between each vertebra — are particularly prone to degeneration and injury, creating a perfect storm for two common cervical spine conditions: herniated cervical discs and cervical spinal stenosis. Unfortunately, cervical spine problems are not easy to treat through non-surgical means.

1. Persistent pain

Several telltale signs indicate it’s time to consider artificial disc replacement surgery. Persistent pain or pain that has increased in severity after six months of non-surgical treatment is an indicator. Pain is the universal signal that something is amiss in your body.

2. Pain spreads down arms or legs

Similarly, if your pain radiates or spreads down your arms and legs, call your specialist to get it checked out. Radiating pain indicates that a nerve root in the spine has become inflamed, compressed, or pinched.

3. Pain with headache, numbness or tingling

An alternate collection of symptoms that are a red flag is pain accompanied by headache, numbness, or tingling. These symptoms are consistent with a pinched nerve in the cervical spine. If you suffer from migraines, it may be easy to overlook this sign since it feels like a migraine episode.

4. Weakness in your legs, feet, arms, and hands

Conditions like spinal stenosis may manifest as weakness in your limbs. Regular wear and tear over time and degenerative conditions such as arthritis cause spinal canal narrowing, resulting in spinal cord compression. Untreated spinal stenosis worsens over time. Severe cases may need surgery.

5. Reduced mobility or function

When pain and other spine health symptoms reduce normal movement, preventing you from performing everyday functions like walking, bending, and standing, it’s time to address this issue with your doctor. Bending down to put your shoes on shouldn’t cause excruciating pain or put you on the sidelines of your life.  

If you have chronic back or neck pain and want to know if minimally invasive spine surgery is right for you, contact the office of Dr. Neil Bhamb at our Century City or Marina Del Rey, California, location. Book your appointment online or call the office convenient to you today.