The pain associated with degenerative disc disease or a herniated disc can be crippling. Many people experience discomfort while walking, tingling in their legs, hands and feet, and find bending, twisting, or lifting difficult. These back problems can take a severe toll on the quality of life, making everyday, routine activities seem almost impossible. The good news is that there are treatments that can be highly effective and help curb, and sometimes eliminate, the debilitating pain that comes with these ailments.
While spinal fusion, which joins vertebrae together using a surgical technique, and cervical fusion for cervical problems have been used extensively, artificial disc replacement surgery, also known as total disc replacement surgery, has emerged as a viable option. Since 2004, artificial disc replacement has involved replacing the painful, degenerated, or herniated disc with a prosthetic metal implant. This implant is supposed to aid agility and reduce the pain associated with normal movements, without reducing or constricting a patient’s ability to use their full range of motion.
Recent studies have found that disc replacement surgery resulted in less loss of motion than spinal fusion, and a shorter recovery time. Because the main focus of disc replacement is on returning a wide range of motion to patients, doctors often urge patients to return to their daily activities early on, while keeping their progression gradual. In addition, disc replacement helps to secure the stability of the other joints above and below the implant.
But it would be best to consult with a doctor to determine if artificial disc replacement surgery is right for you. For patients suffering from osteoporosis, spinal tumors, autoimmune problems, and a host of other medical concerns, this surgery may not be suitable. Also, disc replacement surgery costs can deter patients from seeking this treatment. Disc replacement surgery costs can total at least $35,000, and since it is still largely considered an experimental treatment, insurance companies may not cover the procedure at all.
Even with the high costs, many patients have turned to disc replacement as a solution to their back ailments. The surgery has provided many people with necessary relief, and helped them return to their normal lives. In this case, the hefty price tag could be worth it.