How Artificial Disc Replacement Works

When you have severe or persistent back pain daily, it can signal a problem. When nothing else works to relieve that back pain, sometimes surgery might be required. This surgery is called artificial disk replacement. To find out how artificial disc replacement works, keep reading below.

What happens before artificial disk replacement?

When a patient has been suffering from back pain for more than a certain period, the doctor will try different treatment plans first. If the other treatment plans do not work, the patient and the doctor discuss whether disk replacement would benefit the patient. Before the doctor and patient come to this decision, there are other tests to rule anything out. These include blood tests, x-rays, MRI or CT scans, physical exams, and medical history. The patient also will most likely need to stop smoking and stop taking certain medications if it pertains to them before the procedure. It is a good idea for the patient to talk to the provider before so that they know what to do to prepare.

What happens during the surgery?

The procedure for cervical discs is a little different from the procedure for lumbar discs. This is because they have different functions. Cervical discs are used to support the head. Lumbar discs hold more of the weight of the body and have more rotation. For cervical disks, the surgeon makes a small incision in the front of the neck. For lumbar discs, the surgeon makes an incision in the abdomen. They then move the patient’s organs to the side to allow access to the front of the spine. After the disc is replaced, the surgeon puts the organs in place and closes the incision. The patient is then moved to recovery.

What happens after disk replacement surgery?

The patient is encouraged to walk within the day after surgery to promote blood flow and healing. The patient will be discharged to go home the same day or a few days after the surgery, depending on the location. Then it is time to rest and recover. It is important to get someone to help with some of the daily tasks for a couple of weeks until things are healed enough to do them on your own.


If you have lasting back pain and no other treatment plan has worked, it might be time to talk to your healthcare provider about whether artificial disc replacement is right for you. If you need more information, contact ADR Spine.

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