When the discs between our vertebrae become damaged due to trauma, wear, and tear, or medical conditions, patients often benefit from their being replaced. When the damage becomes severe enough, the disc will have to be removed, and a replacement option explored. One procedure used to replace damaged discs is known as cervical disc arthroplasty. As part of this procedure, an artificial disc will be put in place to restore flexibility and support for the cervical spine.
What Is Cervical Disc Arthroplasty?
This procedure is a form of joint replacement procedure that is used to insert an artificial disc to replace an existing one that has become damaged. The damaged disc is removed, and the artificial disc slipped into the intervertebral space that remains. The prosthetic used in this replacement restores flexibility to the joint, allowing rotation, side-bending, flexion, and extension in natural and often pre-surgical ranges.
What Are Cervical Discs?
Our spine relies on discs to retain normal mobility and function, including in the cervical (neck) area of the spine. Healthy discs are capable of providing a significant amount of cushion for your vertebrae. This protection is provided by the unique structure of the discs, consisting of two parts:
- Nucleus Pulposus – A gel-like core of the disc that is soft and flexible.
- Annulus Fibrosis – The outer ring of the disc. Strong and fibrous, it is the support for the nucleus.
These two components of the disc work together to provide an immense amount of protection for the neighboring vertebrae.
When Is This Procedure Necessary?
Our discs are resilient, but over time they can begin to wear down or become damaged. Compression, herniation, drying out, and general wear and tear can be the result of everything from trauma to simple aging. When the disc has become damaged to the point that the interior nucleus begins to bulge or leak out through the exterior annulus, something must be done to repair it. Another common source of damage is bone spurs forming on the vertebrae that begin damaging the disc.
As they become unable to protect the vertebrae and nerves of the spine, an assortment of symptoms may begin to appear over time. These include tingling, spasms, pain, inability to coordinate, numbness, and loss of mobility. When these conditions appear, cervical disc arthroplasty can provide meaningful relief, easing pain, and restoring mobility to patients receiving it.
Dr. John Czerwein specializes in the performance of procedures like these to help patients find relief from pain, regain mobility, and experience a higher quality of life. If you’re living with symptoms that you believe may be associated with damaged or compromised intervertebral discs, it’s time to reach out to our office for an appointment. Left untreated, damaged or herniated discs can continue to degrade and even begin to cause additional damage to your spine while the symptoms increase in severity. Don’t let spinal pain hold you back, we look forward to seeing you soon!