Getting an Artificial Disc? Here’s What to Expect

Getting an Artificial Disc? Here’s What to Expect

If you’ve heard about hip or knee replacements, you understand the basic concept of artificial disc replacement. This surgery removes and replaces a damaged disc in your spine to decrease pain while preserving your normal spinal movement.

The 24 intervertebral discs in your spinal column act like shock absorbers. These cushion-like pads are tough on the outside with a jelly-like interior. This structure gives the disc flexibility so it can absorb impact whether you’re walking or in the midst of a soccer game.

This structure also leaves a disc vulnerable to injury, especially as a person ages. When this occurs, the strong, protective exterior of the disc can break down or rip, allowing the soft disc’s interior to put pressure on surrounding nerves. Fortunately, an artificial disc replacement can correct this problem by replacing a damaged disc with a new synthetic one.

Dr. Arien Smith at Brain and Spine Institute of New York and New Jersey brings the most innovative solutions available to treating spine problems, including artificial disc replacement. If your back pain doesn’t respond to more conservative treatments, Dr. Smith could recommend a disc replacement procedure. Here’s what to expect when getting an artificial disc.

Preparing for your procedure

Artificial disc replacement involves your spine, so you should consider it a major procedure. 

Like all surgeries, Dr. Smith provides instructions to help you prepare for your appointment. This often includes not eating or drinking for several hours beforehand and possibly modifying the medications, supplements, or herbs you take. Dr. Smith also recommends discontinuing tobacco use.

The artificial disc replacement procedure itself usually takes 2-3 hours, and you get general anesthesia, so you remain in a deep sleep the entire time. 

To access your damaged disc, Dr. Smith makes a small incision on the front of your body. The location varies, depending on the problem disc. For example, to replace a disc in your cervical spine, Dr. Smith makes an incision in your throat area. However, if the disc lies in your lower spine, he makes an incision in your abdomen. 

Approaching your spine from the front helps Dr. Smith avoid nerves in the area along with your spinal cord.

Immediately following your procedure

While you should plan on a short hospital stay of 1-3 days, you can expect to be on your feet within a day of surgery. 

During this time, our team encourages you to move in appropriate ways that support your recovery while giving your body a chance to heal. This includes basic exercises like gentle stretching and walking. You should avoid any activities that overextend or jar your back.

When you’re approved to go home, it’s essential that you continue with your physical therapy program to ensure the best outcomes while you heal.

What to expect in the days to come

After having disc replacement surgery, you can usually expect to return to regular activity within eight weeks. Dr. Smith can provide personalized recommendations and guidelines based on your overall health, lifestyle, and goals.

Undergoing a disc replacement can significantly improve your back pain and restore mobility, but it may not eliminate your symptoms completely. You can rest easy knowing that Dr. Smith works to ensure you reach the best outcome possible, especially when opting for a surgical procedure like artificial disc replacement.

Schedule a consultation with Dr. Smith at Brain and Spine Institute of New York and New Jersey by calling us directly or booking online today to learn what you can expect from artificial disc replacement.

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