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A New Option for Neck Pain

The lower back is one of the most common sources of pain. But the upper portion of the spine—called the cervical—can also be a pain in the neck. Southern California Orthopedic Institute offers a new option to help relieve this pain and restore mobility: artificial disc replacement.

In 2007, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first cervical artificial disc implant in the United States (this follows approval of an artificial disc implant for the lower back in 2004). The prosthesis is designed to simulate the function of a natural cervical disc.

Candidates for cervical artificial disc replacement include those suffering from degenerative disc disease, which is the breaking down of a spinal disc. The disc acts as a shock absorber for our spine and allows us to twist and bend. When the disc degenerates or herniates, a person may experience symptoms such as pain radiating down the arm or numbness. As a result, we often have to alter our lifestyles to manage the pain.

Dr. Stephen Schopler, a fellowship-trained spinal surgeon at Southern California Orthopedic Institute, says, “Artificial disc replacement can be an effective alternative to spinal fusion for some patients. There is faster recovery time, and the patient is often back to work within two to four weeks after surgery.”

Spinal fusion is the conventional treatment for cervical disc degeneration and herniation when surgery is necessary. Fusion and artificial disc replacement are both designed to relieve pain. Some studies show that disc replacement can better restore the flexibility of the neck.

Dr. Brian Grossman, a fellowship-trained spinal surgeon at Southern California Orthopedic Institute, adds: “Conservative treatment is always considered first for patients, but disc replacement is a viable option for selective cases where surgery is necessary.”

For more information, call Southern California Orthopedic Institute at (877) 933-3387.

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