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Disc Replacement

What is disc replacement?

Similar to joint replacements, disc replacement surgery uses an artificial disc to replace a worn, degenerated disc in your spine to reduce pain and improve mobility. Disc replacement may be an alternative to spinal fusion surgery. Your doctor may recommend replacing the entire disc or just the center of the disc (called the nucleus).

When is disc replacement performed?

If your condition has not been improved by more conservative methods, such as medication or physical therapy, you may be a good candidate for disc replacement if:

  • Your back pain is likely caused by one or two discs in your lower back
  • You don't have facet joint disease or nerve compression
  • You're a normal weight or slightly overweight
  • You haven't had major spinal surgery in the past
  • You don't have a spinal deformity (like scoliosis)
  • Your physician can help you determine the best treatment approach for your condition. The physicians at REX Neurosurgery & Spine Specialists are experienced in diagnosing and treating spinal disorders and disease and trained in the newest, safest techniques for relieving pain and returning you to a more active lifestyle.

What to expect

Before surgery, quitting smoking and improving your fitness level through regular exercise will help you recover more quickly. The procedure is performed through an incision in your abdomen while you're under general anesthesia and usually requires a hospital stay of one to four days. After surgery, which typically takes two to three hours, you'll be encouraged to stand and walk once the anesthesia wears off. The more you're able to move, particularly in the mid-section, the quicker your recovery is likely to be.

You can expect your back pain to improve as you recover in the weeks and months after surgery; however, disc replacement doesn't completely eliminate pain. Most people return to regular activity six to eight weeks after surgery.

The at REX Neurosurgery & Spine Specialists can help you decide on the treatment that's best for you. They specialize in minimally invasive spine surgeryand are experienced in diagnosing and treating disc disorders and disease, using the newest techniques for relieving pain and returning you to an active lifestyle. To make an appointment at REX Neurosurgery & Spine Specialists, call 919-784-1410.