How disc replacement surgery can provide a new lease of life for back pain sufferers
As chronic pain conditions go, back pain has to be up there as one of the worst. Often starting out small and becoming excruciating over time, many back pain sufferers find that their condition has a severe impact on their lives, preventing them from doing the activities they used to enjoy, and often even simple, every day tasks such as housework or food shopping.
Although there are a range of treatments available which can help to alleviate the pain, often they are not as successful as one might hope, and endless massages and visits to the chiropractor can often leave sufferers feeling in despair. Add to that the daily painkillers and physiotherapist-recommended stretching exercises, and the condition can easily begin o take over your life.
Herniated discs are a particularly common problem amongst back pain sufferers, and can happen easily as a result of lifting a heavy item incorrectly or from suddenly twisting your spine. Other causes can include being overweight or experiencing degeneration due to disease or aging, and once the condition has presented itself, it can be difficult to get relief.
Discs act as shock absorbers, helping to cushion the bones of the spine, and a herniated disc is one which extends beyond the capsule containing it and pushes into the spinal canal. A herniated disc can occur anywhere along the spine, including the neck – though they most commonly occur in the lower back. Although it doesn’t always cause pain or discomfort, if a herniated disc pushes against a nerve in the lower back then this can cause pain in the legs or back – also known as sciatica. Similarly, if the problem occurs in your neck then you may experience pain in your neck, shoulders and arms. Numbness, tingling and weakness are also common.
There are many options to explore in terms of treatment, including exercise or physical therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, steroid injections and even rest, but if all of these have proved fruitless, then there is one more avenue to explore. Disc replacement surgery may seem like a drastic course of action, but for many, it can provide them with a new lease of life, and with techniques and materials now more advanced than ever, it’s well worth investigating.
In cases of disc degeneration where either cervical or lumbar conditions cause nerve pain, surgery is necessary if considered to be a good option if conservative medical treatment has not been effective. In these cases, the most commonly offered procedure is lumbar or cervical fusion or fixation, but Artificial Disc Replacement Surgery – otherwise known as ADR – can prove a better option, as well as being one that is far less invasive. Designed to replace the degenerated disc with an artificial implant which can mimic the healthy natural disc, it’s a fairly straightforward and minimally invasive procedure.
The first lumbar disc replacement surgeries were performed in the 80s and 90s, with the procedure becoming a popular choice as designs and materials improved. Nowadays, the prostheses implanted are known as “third generation”, and offering improved resistance to wear and bio-chemical behaviour that is very similar to that of the natural disc, surgeries can now be performed with a greater level of safety and with better results than ever before.
Over the past few years, ADR surgery has become the best option for those suffering from lumbar and cervical degenerative disc disease, and patients can enjoy an entirely normal life afterwards as a result. From regaining their previous quality of life, they can even find themselves able to practice new activities and sports, with the likelihood of requiring any further surgery practically nothing.
Whilst disc replacement surgery cost can be a concern for many pain sufferers who are at their wit’s end, it can be a surprisingly affordable procedure compared to many other spinal surgery options available – and those who have undergone it will most likely say that it is money well spent in the long-run.
Whilst surgery should never be the first port of call for back pain sufferers, it’s comforting for those who feel their options have run out to know that there is another avenue to explore, and thanks to the latest, cutting-edge procedures and technologies, plus the great results and quality of life reported by many previous patients, back pain no longer has to rule your life if you refuse to let it.