Why A Cervical Disc Replacement Might Be Needed And What To Expect With The Surgery

Health & Medical Blog

Cervical disc replacement surgery might be recommended by your doctor when your neck pain persists for months even after you've had physical therapy and other treatments. Here's a look at why this surgery might be needed and what to expect when you have it done.

Why A Cervical Disc Replacement Might Be Necessary

A cervical disc is a cushion that separates two neck bones. The disc can become damaged due to arthritis, age, injury, or an unknown reason, but when damage occurs, you could have neck pain. When the disc presses against a nerve, the pain could travel down your arm and become a daily burden. Sometimes, this condition improves on its own or with physical therapy treatments that relieve nerve compression. When these treatments don't help, a disc replacement might be needed. This surgery removes the damaged disc so pressure on the nerve is relieved. Then, a replacement disc is put in the vacant space to restore normal functioning of your cervical spine. The goal of the surgery is pain relief

Why Disc Replacement Is Preferred Over A Fusion

Another type of surgery for cervical disc damage is to remove the damaged disc and fuse the two neck bones together. This procedure can eliminate pain as well, but it has the disadvantage of causing loss of neck movement. When you have a disc replacement, you won't need a bone graft and you won't lose movement in your neck since you'll have an artificial disc instead of fusing bones together with a bone graft.

How A Cervical Disc Replacement Is Done

This surgery is usually done as an inpatient, and you may need to stay in the hospital for a day or two to recover. The surgeon makes an incision in the front part of your neck to remove the damaged disc and relieve pressure on your nerve. Once that's done, the replacement disc is put in. This disc is usually made of metal so it's strong and it is designed to allow normal neck movement.

You'll probably wear a neck collar for several days while you recover from this surgery. You may have some neck pain in the days after the surgery, and since the incision is in the front of your neck, this could include pain when you swallow. You'll probably be instructed to eat soft foods until your neck has healed. Your activities will be limited until you've been cleared by your doctor to resume work and other usual light forms of exercise. However, walking may be encouraged starting right after surgery, and you'll want to follow your doctor's instructions so your neck heals properly and you can get back to your normal routine as soon as possible.

For more information about cervical disc replacement surgery, contact a surgeon in your area.


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