Disc replacement surgery is a relatively new way for doctors to treat pain in the back and neck. This type of surgery is similar to spinal fusion but involves implanting an artificial disc that can stop motion at areas in the spine that cause pain. This is particularly effective for people with certain conditions like degenerative disc disease. It is also great for people who suffer with chronic back pain from spinal stenosis. However, the surgery effectively limits motion in people who have it performed, and the fact that it is a relatively new procedure means that there are fewer surgeons who have significant experience performing it.
Lumbar Disc Replacement
People who have lumbar disc replacement surgery for lower back pain should expect to take about six weeks off work following the operation. However, individuals should talk to their doctor about how long they will need to stay at home as this can vary depending on how physically demanding their job is. In addition, they should seek medical care immediately if they have a fever over 102 degrees or see changes in the odor, color or amount of drainage coming from the incision site. They should also call their doctor if there is increased swelling or redness near or around the incision.
Steri-Strips are often used in lumbar disc replacement. This is a type of paper tape that is designed to fall away as the incision heals. These generally fall off one to two weeks after the surgery, and it is fine to peel them off if they are still attached after two weeks. People should not shower for three to five days after the surgery and need to keep the incision covered when they resume. In addition, they should replace the bandage after showering and avoid hot tubs, pools and bathing until there are no scabs present over the incision.
Bruising near the incision and genital area is normal after lumbar disc replacement. This will not cause any serious problems and should go away after a week. Individuals will be prescribed pain killers when they are discharged from the hospital. The discomfort should decrease over six to eight weeks, and people should take less medication as it subsides. Individuals should remember to never drive or drink alcohol when they are on pain killers and that they should be consumed with at least eight ounces of water.
Individuals who have lumbar disc replacement should never lift anything weighing more than ten pounds for six weeks after the surgery. It is possible to climb stairs, but it is best to use a handrail or have someone assist in the process. Lying down, sitting or standing will be the most comfortable positions for the first few weeks following the surgery, and people should remember to only sit for short periods of time and slowly increase the amount of time that they spend walking. In addition, a back brace will be provided after the surgery, and it is best worn at any time that people are performing physical activity. Individuals generally prefer to wear it at all times for several weeks following the surgery as it provides good support.
Cervical Disc Replacement
After cervical disc replacement, individuals will need to stay home from work for between two and eight weeks depending on how physically active they are required to be at their job. Steri-Strips are also used, and the same precautions should be followed as those who have lumbar disc replacement. In addition, the same rules for showering and bathing should be adhered to. Dermabond is generally used to seal cervical disc replacement incisions. This is a skin adhesive that should never be peeled, scratched or picked at. Individuals who receive dissolvable sutures will need to see their doctor six weeks after the surgery to ensure that everything is healing correctly.
People who undergo cervical disc replacement also receive pain medication that they should take as advised. In addition, many people experience a sore throat after the operation that diminishes gradually. The time it takes to go away varies by individual, and it could take several weeks. It is best to chew all food thoroughly and stick to eating soft things. People often wear a cervical collar for three or four weeks after the operation for support and comfort.
Spine Surgeon Skills
Individuals who choose to undergo disc replacement should keep in mind that the procedure is still relatively new, and it can often be very difficult to get accurate reviews about a particular surgeon’s experience and skills in performing the operation. A surgeon’s ability to perform a particular type of procedure will generally improve with experience. In order to find the best surgeon for disc replacement, it is a good idea to get as many referrals as possible and to ask questions about the number of times that a surgeon has done the operation and their patients’ outcomes. In addition, artificial disc manufacturers often require surgeons to undergo extensive training before they are allowed to implant the discs. While there is no standardized training program at the moment, it may be worth contacting disc manufacturers and asking about recommended doctors and potential risks.
Disc Replacement Cost
People who are considering artificial disc replacement should keep in mind that many insurance providers consider the procedure to be unproven or experimental. Because of this, it is very important for individuals to check with their insurance company to determine exactly how much they will be reimbursed. Medicaid and Medicare currently only provide partial reimbursement, and the amounts that private insurance companies will reimburse patients can range from all of the costs incurred to nothing at all. Typical total costs for the spine surgery tend to range between $30,000 and $45,000.
There is quite a bit to consider when choosing disc replacement surgery. While many people who experience a bulging disc may not necessarily require surgery, it is an option in extreme cases. However, herniated disc surgery can often be beneficial for people who experience extreme neck pain. While this type of surgery offers a lot of promise, individuals should always weigh their options carefully because it is such a new procedure.