When neck pain caused by a disc problem doesn’t improve with conservative medical care, it may be time to consider a cervical disc replacement. Fellowship-trained spine surgeon Gary Alegre, MD, in Stockton, California, has helped many patients overcome neck pain and preserve normal movement by replacing the damaged disc. To learn more about this minimally invasive procedure, call the office or use the convenient online booking feature today.
Cervical disc replacement, also called arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure to replace a damaged disc in your neck with an artificial disc.
When you have a failed disc that must be removed to eliminate pain and other symptoms, you have two treatment options: disc replacement and spinal fusion.
Both treatments restore spinal stability, but only a disc replacement offers the exceptional advantage of preserving normal movement.
Two common neck problems often need a cervical disc replacement:
A herniated disc occurs when the gel-like substance in the center of a disc pushes out through a weak or damaged area in the outer covering. At first, the disc has a bulge that presses against spinal nerves, causing neck pain, as well as pain and tingling that radiate down your arm.
Over time, the outer covering may tear, allowing the gel to spill out of the disc. At that point, the disc loses its ability to cushion the vertebrae, and the gel irritates the surrounding nerves.
Degenerative disc disease develops as the discs gradually dry out, flatten, and collapse, causing pain and compressed nerves. Though this problem occurs naturally, the degenerative process is accelerated by arthritis and neck injuries.
In most cases, Dr. Alegre performs cervical disc replacements using minimally invasive surgery. That means he makes a small incision and doesn’t need to cut the muscles. Instead, he gently separates muscle fibers just enough to accommodate the narrow surgical instruments.
During your surgery, Dr. Alegre uses specialized instruments to remove the damaged disc. He also takes care of any other problems in the vertebrae such as bone spurs.
After preparing the space, Dr. Alegre implants an artificial disc that’s designed to function just like your natural disc. Then when he removes the instruments, the muscles and soft tissues return to their normal position, and he puts a few stitches in the incision.
Though you’ll be up and walking shortly after your surgery, you still need to take it easy for a short time to give the tissues time to heal.
If you struggle with ongoing neck pain and you would like to learn if a cervical disc replacement might help, call Gary Alegre, MD, or schedule an appointment online today.