Intervertebral discs, often called just discs, are spongy cushions that separate each of the bones in your spine. Thanks to their spongy texture, the discs act as shock absorbers. They also help keep your spine stable and allow for spinal movement.
Unfortunately, injury and disease can damage these discs. Damaged discs cause sharp pain, burning sensations, tingling, and even numbness.
If you’re experiencing ongoing back or neck pain, Dr. John Regan and our expert team at Spine Group Beverly Hills can assess whether you have a damaged disc. If so, our team may suggest physical therapy, medication, or injections to help ease your pain. However, in some cases, your best path forward may be a disc replacement.
Below, Dr. Regan shares four reasons you may need a disc replacement.
Back pain originates from many sources, including pulled muscles, fractured vertebrae, arthritis, and damaged discs. Artificial disc replacement is only suitable if your pain stems from a damaged disc, and that’s why a proper diagnosis is the key to determining if surgery is right for you.
To confirm this diagnosis, Dr. Regan performs a physical exam, asks you about your symptoms, and reviews imaging tests. Imaging tests, such as an MRI, X-ray, or a CT scan, provide detailed images to confirm disc damage or deterioration.
If disc damage isn’t the source of your back pain, Dr. Regan suggests the appropriate treatment options for you.
There are many reasons why your disc may hurt, including degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, and disc herniation. Depending on the root cause of your pain, conservative options can help provide relief.
For example, conservative treatments for herniated discs include over-the-counter pain medications, cortisone injections, muscle relaxers, heat therapy, physical therapy, and rest.
In many cases, non-surgical treatments are enough to provide pain relief, but if you don’t experience a respite in your symptoms, it may be time to consider artificial disc replacement. Although disc replacement isn’t the first line of defense against disc pain, it can provide lasting relief.
A pinched nerve alone isn’t reason enough to consider disc replacement. However, if your disc has become so damaged that it herniates out of place, it can press on your nerves.
Pinched nerves caused by disc herniation can lead to pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling that radiates from your spine to the tips of your hands or toes. If conservative treatments don’t reduce your pain, it may be time to consider disc replacement.
If you’re dealing with a damaged disc and have already tried conservative treatments, Dr. Regan may assess your suitability for disc replacement surgery. Like all surgeries, you should be in good general health before undergoing an operation. Medical clearance before surgery typically includes a pre-op physical examination as well as blood and urine testing.
Depending on your existing underlying health conditions, you may also need a chest X-ray and an electrocardiogram (EKG). Dr. Regan also reviews your current list of medications and advises you whether any of your medication schedules should be altered before surgery.
Deciding to undergo surgery is never a light decision, but it’s one that you don’t have to make alone. Dr. Regan explores all of your options, non-surgical and surgical, and devises the right treatment plan for you.
Dr. Regan performs disc replacement with minimally invasive techniques. Minimally invasive surgery typically yields shorter recovery times, less bleeding during the procedure, and smaller incisions.
Don’t let nagging back pain control your life. Find out if disc replacement is right for you by scheduling an appointment at our Beverly Hills or Santa Monica, California office today.