The human spine is a remarkable structure that is responsible for supporting our bodies and allowing us to move freely. However, for those suffering from a lumbar disc herniation, this complex network of bones and nerves can become a source of chronic pain and disability. In recent years, lumbar disc replacement surgery has emerged as the greatest advancement in the treatment of lumbar disc herniations, offering patients the hope of a pain-free life with restored mobility. This innovative surgical approach provides incredible benefits for patients seeking relief from lumbar disc pain.
Understanding Lumbar Disc Herniations
The bones in your lumbar spine (lower back) are cushioned by lumbar discs. These discs act as shock absorbers so that when you move and bend, the bones do not rub against each other. A lumbar disc herniation occurs when one of these discs is damaged or has worn down over time, allowing the bones of the spine to rub against each other. This can be the result of trauma, repetitive strain injury, a disrupted or slipped disc, osteoarthritis, or gradual age-related degeneration over time.
Common symptoms of a herniated lumbar disc include:
- Pain, potentially significant or debilitating, in the lower back
- Stiffness in the lower back
- Burning, numbness, or weakness in the legs
- Symptoms may spread down the lower back to the buttocks
- Symptoms may radiate down one leg or both legs
These symptoms can range from a minor inconvenience to a major disruption to your quality of life. Unfortunately, once a lumbar disc has become herniated, it is very likely that symptoms will persist or worsen over time.
From Old to New: The Difference Between Traditional Spinal Fusion and Disc Replacement Surgery
Traditional spinal fusion surgery involves removing the damaged disc and using hardware, such as screws and rods, to permanently fuse two or more vertebrae together. In some cases, a bone graft is also added to the fusion site to promote healing. The implants fuse with the surrounding vertebrae, forming a permanent solid block of bone, so that there will no longer be two vertebrae rubbing against each other. The goal of this procedure is to stabilize the spine and alleviate symptoms. Spinal fusion can be a lengthy and invasive procedure that often requires a significant recovery period.
Lumbar disc replacement surgery, on the other hand, involves removing the damaged disc and replacing it with an artificial one. The artificial disc is designed to mimic the function of a natural disc and is inserted through a minimally invasive surgical approach. Inserting an artificial disc prevents the vertebrae from rubbing against each other painfully. The goal of this procedure is not just to stabilize the spine, but to preserve the spine’s natural motion while alleviating symptoms. In most cases, lumbar disc replacement surgery is a same-day procedure and patients can return to normal activities much sooner compared to traditional spinal fusion surgery.
The Significant Advantages of Disc Replacement
Lumbar disc replacement surgery is a significant development in the field of orthopedic spine surgery because it offers a more effective and durable solution for patients suffering from lumbar disc herniations. Unlike traditional spinal fusion surgery, which fuses two or more vertebrae together, disc replacement surgery replaces the damaged disc with an artificial one. This allows for the preservation of the patient’s natural spinal motion, reducing the risk of adjacent segment degeneration and potentially leading to better long-term outcomes.
Additionally, lumbar disc replacement surgery has been shown to provide faster and more complete pain relief compared to fusion surgery, allowing patients to return to their normal activities sooner. The shorter recovery time and quicker return to normal activities is also accompanied by a lower risk of complications and the decreased need for revision surgeries as compared to spinal fusion. Artificial discs also have a low implant failure rate, which results in longer lasting symptom relief for those suffering from a herniated lumbar disc.
Overall, lumbar disc replacement surgery represents a major advance in the treatment of lumbar disc herniations, providing patients with a more effective, long-lasting solution for their pain and disability. This innovative procedure can provide patients with the ability to return to their daily activities with minimal interruption and quick results, allowing them to regain their normal quality of life as soon as possible.
If you are suffering from a lumbar disc herniation, lumbar disc replacement could be the solution you need to achieve lasting relief from back pain. Dr. Stephen Pehler is an experienced orthopedic spine surgeon who offers lumbar disc replacement surgery for qualifying candidates here at his Denver-based orthopedic practice. Call 303-695-6060 or contact us online to book your appointment with Dr. Pehler today.