What is artificial disc replacement?
Also known as arthroplasty, an artificial disc replacement replaces deteriorated or damaged cervical or lumbar intervertebral discs with artificial disc implants. The ADR procedure is considered minimally invasive due to the small size of the incision. Once the incision has healed, the scar will start to fade.
When is ADR required?
Degenerative disc disease is a common cause for needing an ADR procedure. This happens when the discs in the spine begin to degenerate or break down over time. The discs are a layer of cushioning structure that essentially sandwiches each vertebra to allow movement. Once the discs break down and become thinner, the vertebrae begin to press on nerves, resulting in pain. Eventually, the damage to the disc can become so significant that back or neck discomfort is common. This can cause disc collapse and other serious issues.
Other indications for surgery
Aside from degenerative disc diseases, other reasons someone would need this surgery are problems like spondylolisthesis or previous disc surgery. If a person has had disc surgery before with no relief, revisiting the procedure may help. Experiencing debilitating back pain from the lower spine from 1 or 2 discs is also a qualifier for the procedure.
A common misconception is that the recovery process will take a long time. Recovery will vary by patient. However, improvement is usually noticed within weeks to a few months. Many patients can go home on the same day as the procedure. Compliance with a few post-surgery rules, such as having a clear liquid diet, will be required. Help using stairs or when walking and taking prescribed pain medication are essential post-op requirements.
An artificial disc replacement surgery can help to alleviate pain and improve mobility. Another benefit of ADR surgery is spine preservation and maintenance since the artificial disc mimics the function of a healthy disc. This can help to prevent further degeneration of the spine. Most patients report an improvement in quality of life after having disc surgery.