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Artificial Disc Surgery Info

When a disc within the spine is damaged, the pain that results can be devastating.

It’s a problem that’s affected many people over the years, and recently, medical advancements have been made that can help to alleviate the problem. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration of the United States in October of 2004, artificial disc surgery has been shown to be an effective way of helping those with damaged discs. In this article, we’ll discuss the surgery in order to help you to understand the process.


In the past, those who have damaged discs in the back have had to undergo a surgery known as spinal fusion. Discs are located between the vertebrae of the back, allowing cushioning and shock support. When a disc is damaged, doctors often remove the disc and fuse the two vertebrae together. While it can help the sufferer, not all spinal fusion surgeries are successful. Studies have shown that the success rates for the spinal fusion surgery sit at around 75 percent. Also, the recovery time for the surgery can be extensive, requiring up to 24 months to fully take hold. The new surgical process that has been approved involves the installation of an artificial disc where the damaged disc was located. This type of surgery can help the patient to keep their range of motion, as spinal fusion surgery may result in a loss of flexibility. There are many different artificial discs available for installation, but in the United States, only one has been approved. Known as the Charite artificial disc, the device is made of three pieces. There is a sliding core that is made out of plastic, along with two endplates that are made out of a cobalt chromium alloy. The sliding core allows the flexibility of the back to be successfully maintained, providing ample relief to the afflicted individual. The device is made out of the same materials that have been used in knee replacement implants, so it has been shown to be generally well-accepted by the human body.

In order to perform the surgery, the patient needs to be lying on their backs. By making an incision near the belly button, the physician will be able to remove the damaged disc, replacing it with the new artificial one. The surgery is performed primarily to offer a similar level of pain relief as spinal fusion surgery, while still allowing the range of motion of the spine to be unaffected.

Artificial disc surgery takes an average of four days in the hospital before the patient is allowed to go home. In some cases, the use of a back brace is recommended post-surgery in order to allow support for the abdominal muscles. The artificial discs have been thoroughly tested, and the implants have shown to be effective for at least seventeen years given the current research.

Now that you know more about artificial disc surgery, you’ll be better able to make an informed decision regarding how you want to deal with your damaged disc.


Failed Back Syndrome

The condition of failed back syndrome is not one single factor that causes back pain but potentially a bunch of symptoms that occur after surgery, or sometimes following other types of treatments, all of which have long lasting effects.

This may not be what you want to hear after recovering from a surgical procedure, hopefully one that otherwise has been a success, but nonetheless this is not good news. The most common pain related to failed back syndrome includes hip or thigh pain and back or leg pain. Sometimes it’s a stabbing pain while other times it is a dull aching pain. Either way it can be blamed on something that was done, accidentally, during surgery.

One possible answer to these back pains is that during a surgical procedure nerves were cut that should not have been. This could very easily be the cause of the pain in the back. It would be classified as neuropathic path. If on the other hand the pain were more likely caused by scarring of the nerves this would be called radiculopathy. This term refers to the pain radiating and in this case it would be radiating from a nerve root that is sending out too many messages. Unfortunately there are more surgical errors that can cause back pain. What if during surgery somehow the person’s posture was affected, perhaps enough to make them walk different. This could cause an inflammation of the joints and that could be very painful. Another mistake can upset the way the muscles are supposed to lie to allow for better functionality. This would make back muscles very sore and painful.

Back surgery is a very delicate operation and too often little things go wrong along the way. Sometimes its during the surgery and sometimes if during the process of healing. This can happen because of what the surgeon is going to do to the patient’s back or because of what was done. Surgery as delicate as that done on the back is just as likely to develop new problems, as it is to fix the old ones. This is one type of operation where the surgeon guarantees nothing.

The acknowledgement of failed back syndrome only goes to convince those with back problems that surgery may not be the answer. Less invasive treatments are available to try first and surgery should only be done as a last resort not as a starting point. Even doctors are less likely to suggest surgery as a starting point now since they have learned more about what causes back pain and where it begins. This leaves many options for the standard back treatments of gentle exercises,antiinflammatories and hot or cold packs to physiotherapy.

If you have been diagnosed with failed back syndrome do not give up. A fresh look at your problem many bring a fresh solution. Trying to find what will help to diminish the pain while increasing mobility, strength and flexibility are the place to start. Then treat the pain.


Nerve Block Can Help Back Pain

There are many treatments available for back pain that can be tried, but what can be done when the pain is so intense that you don’t feel able to do your physiotherapy exercises because of it.

While the option to take stronger mediation is always there more people are reluctant to take strong pain relievers for fear of becoming addicted to them.

How many times have we seen articles about this person or that who after a back injury wound up on heavy pain relievers and became addicted to them for years? No one wants that scenario for his or her lives, yet the issue still remains; what can be done about the intense back pain?

One alternative is a nerve block. A nerve block is not something done lightly at the request of the patient who has some back pain and wants tot get on with their lives. This treatment was originally designed as a surgical technique but now is used for pain; often back pain that is persistent, very painful and can be traced accurately to a nerve.

Sometimes based on the back pain the specific nerve cannot be found and so instead a block that needn’t be specific, an epidural steroid injection, is used. Basically the block used is a type of anesthetic or anti-inflammatory, which by going into the nerves can diminish the pain while allowing a better range of movement. If too much is used the pain will disappear, but paralysis could set in, even if only temporarily. The medication will actually leave a person’s body within hours to days but its effects last much longer.

Another type of block is the facet block. This works because it is often the facet joints that cause back pain. So if an injection is made into the facet joints the pain in a person’s back will be helped. The facet joints often cause not only pain in a certain area, like the lower back, but they often are the cause of radiating pain into the legs, arms or even a person’s bum.

There are other types of nerve blocks that are not only pain relievers but that may destroy the nerve endings or nerve tissue in the painful area to try to stop the chronic back pain from returning. If your health care provider is considering a nerve block you should understand that this alone would not stop the back pain. While the pain is diminished it is important to follow though with an exercise program designed by your doctor or physiotherapist to enable you to build up strength in the lower back, where you are suffering the pain, as well as to increase freedom of movement and flexibility.

Nerve blocks are not the answer for everyone. Sometimes the pain can be so bad that a drastic solution is needed. Be certain to discuss with your physician any dangers they see in the use of a nerve block and if the cessation of pain outweighs those concerns.