The Benefits of Disc Replacement for Chronic Neck Pain

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You’ve tried a number of conservative treatments to remedy your chronic neck pain, as well as the symptoms that radiate into your arms. It may be time to consider a longer-lasting solution, and cervical disc replacement is a great option.

You’ve been struggling with chronic neck pain, as well as symptoms that travel down into your arms and hands, and conservative treatments just aren’t working. If you want to take the next step and find a longer-lasting solution, you might want to consider replacing your damaged cervical disc.

The procedure to replace a disc is called a total disc arthroplasty (TDA). Board-certified neurosurgeon Dr. Ali H. Mesiwala and our team have found that this type of spine surgery has helped scores of our patients to find much-needed relief.

Here’s a look at some of the benefits of disc replacement for your neck pain.

Behind the pain

Your neck is made up of seven small vertebrae that are separated by six intervertebral discs. These discs feature a tough outer layer called the annulus and a soft, gelatinous interior called the nucleus pulposus that provide critical cushioning, support, and spacing in your cervical spine.

Disc problems tend to occur more often in areas of your spine that move the most, namely your neck and lower back. Over time, the wear and tear can damage the disc, allowing some of the material to escape its space or the disc itself to decompress, which can pinch nerve roots that exit your cervical spine.

As a result, you can experience chronic pain in your neck, as well as symptoms like numbness and tingling in your hands as the nerve compression affects these areas.

Going to the source of the problem with disc replacement

If, after an extensive evaluation, we find that your discomfort is related to a damaged disc that shows no signs of healing after conservative treatments, there are surgical options.

At our practice, we prefer replacing the damaged disc with an artificial one for several reasons, including:

Preserving range of motion

One of the surgical options for neck pain is spinal fusion, a procedure in which we fuse two vertebrae together, which results in a loss of range of motion. Conversely, with a TDA, we remove your diseased or damaged disc and replace it with an artificial one, which better preserves your ability to move your neck and head.

Easier recovery

When you have a spinal fusion, you may need to spend up to three months with a hard cervical collar to allow time for your vertebrae to fuse together and have restrictions in their activity level during this time. After a TDA (in case of multiple levels), you wear a soft cervical collar. This allows resumption of activities, unrestricted, within a couple of weeks. 

Preventing adjacent segment disease

When we perform spine surgery, our goal is to remedy your problem, not create new ones. When you undergo a spinal fusion, it places more stress on the vertebrae and discs directly above and below the fusion, which places you at greater risk of developing adjacent disk disease.

With a TDA, we avoid this potential complication since we’re not placing more pressure on adjacent structures.

He regularly performs disc replacements from one to four levels, in patients who are athletes, first responders, military personnel, business professionals, and weekend warriors. The statistics are as follows: 30 min per level (on average), with zero complications including surgical site infection, zero instances of loss of neurological function, and zero instances of implant failure. Many of these procedures are often performed in the outpatient surgery center so patients are able to go home the same day.

Dr. Mesiwala combines nearly two decades of medical and surgical expertise to ensure that his patients continue their lifestyle unrestricted from pain with optimal surgical outcomes. He is a faculty member for training future surgeons, and regularly participates in clinical research to further the field of motion preservation surgery. 

Ultimately, the decision to undergo spine surgery is one you shouldn’t enter into lightly, and we’re here to provide you with the information you need. To learn more about your surgical options for chronic neck pain, please contact one of our offices in Newport Beach, Marina del Rey, Rancho Cucamonga, or San Bernardino, California, to set up a consultation.