Many Americans experience chronic pain and poor mobility as a result of damage or deterioration of their spinal disks. Although treatments like physical therapy, medication, and chiropractic care are usually effective, some people have to turn to surgery to treat their condition.

There are several surgical options available, but the Artificial Disk Replacement (ADR) is one of the most innovative. This procedure involves removing worn or damaged intervertebral discs and replacing them with artificial disks made from metal and plastic.

Although this procedure has a very high success rate, there are several considerations to keep in mind before committing to this type of surgery. This guide will share more detail on these important considerations and for more details click here.

What Is An Artificial Disk Replacement?

To understand how an artificial disk replacement works, you need to have basic knowledge of the human spine.

The spine is made up of vertebrae bones, which are stacked on top of one another. Between each bone is a rubbery, fluid-filled disc called an “intervertebral disk” or a “spinal disk”.

Your spinal disks have three primary roles:

•    To act as shock absorbers which prevent damage to the spine

•    To support the movement

•    To act as ligaments which help to hold the vertebrae together and provide the spine with more stability

Unfortunately, spinal disks can be damaged or deteriorated as a result of injury or disease. When this occurs, the disks may flatten, cause inflammation, or herniate. This can lead to back pain, inflammation, pinched nerves, and a variety of other problems.

An artificial disk replacement removes a damaged or deteriorated spinal disk, replacing it with an artificial disk. By replacing the bad disk, the back pain and mobility issues it was causing are eliminated or significantly reduced.

Things to Consider Before An Artificial Disk Replacement

Surgery should always be a last resort

Although artificial disk replacement surgery is a very safe and minimally invasive procedure, it still involves some risk. Surgeries can go wrong, with patients reacting poorly on the operating table or suffering from unexpected complications.

For this reason, patients should only use surgery as a last resort unless their doctor tells them that a specific surgical procedure is necessary. Even then, looking for a second opinion before getting surgery is always a good idea.

There are many effective non-surgical treatments available including physical therapy, chiropractic treatments, acupuncture, and medication. Even simple lifestyle changes like exercising more, losing weight, and eating a healthier diet can reduce the symptoms associated with spinal disk injuries or diseases.

Learn the procedure’s potential complications

It is important to be aware of the complications that may occur before having artificial disk replacement surgery. They include:

•    Dislodging or displacement of the artificial disk after surgery

•    Infection of the tissue around the artificial disk

•    Broken implant device

•    Stiffness of the spine

•    Issues relating to poorly positioned artificial disk

•    Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal bones cause by bone deterioration)

•    Blood clots

•    Injury to surrounding organs and blood vessels during surgery

•    Device malfunction or device wearing out

Consider how these complications might affect your health and ask your doctor how likely they are to occur.

It may not eliminate your back pain

Although artificial disk replacement surgery has a high success rate, the procedure is not guaranteed to eliminate back pain. You may continue to experience some pain in the area where the disc was removed or in other parts of your back. For this reason, it is important to ask your healthcare provider for a realistic estimate of how much better off you will be after surgery.

Do You Meet the Criteria For Surgery?

Your doctor will consider the following criteria before deciding if you are eligible for this type of surgery:

•    The source of your back pain has been narrowed down to damage or deterioration of one or two disks

•    You must not have facet joint disease or bony compression on spinal nerves

•    You cannot be excessively overweight

•    You must not have had major surgery on the lumbar spine in the past

Pre-existing conditions may make surgery impossible

If you are so unwell that you cannot tolerate anesthesia or surgery you will not be able to have an artificial disk replacement performed. Other conditions which may affect your eligibility include:

•    Poor bone quality
Patients with conditions like severe osteoporosis replacement

•    Pre-existing spinal instability
subluxation of the spine caused by a condition like spondylolisthesis or an abnormal curvature of the spine caused by a condition like scoliosis

•    Arthritic joints
The spine’s facet joints must have little or no arthritic changes

 It may not fully restore mobility

The way intervertebral discs move within the spine is quite complex. They are firm but still provide enough flexibility for the spine to twist and bend easily.

Although an artificial disk is very similar to a biological disc, it cannot mimic its behavior completely. Different types of implants will also impact mobility in different ways, so the type of product used by your surgeon will affect how your mobility changes. 

There are other surgical options

It’s important to note that artificial disk replacement isn’t your only surgical option. Spinal fusion is another useful form of surgery that involves the removal of a damaged or deteriorating disks and the joining of surrounding vertebrae. Although it can reduce mobility, it is an effective form of surgery for treating back pain associated with spinal disk problems.

Another option is a microdiscectomy. It is a minimally invasive procedure, where a part of the damaged or deteriorated disk is removed. This alleviates pressure on the spinal cord and associated nerves, reducing or eliminating pain.

To learn more about artificial disk replacement surgery, talk to your physician or a surgeon. They will be able to give you more detail on how the procedure works and what benefits it can provide.