Frequently-Asked Questions

Still have questions? You will find the answers to some of the most frequently-asked questions about the spine, related conditions, and treatments.

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DDD stands for Degenerative Disc Disease and is one of the most common causes of neck and back pain. It refers to the breakdown of one or more discs (shock absorbing soft tissue structure between each vertebra) in the spine and is linked to neck or back pain with or without shooting pain, numbness and weakness in the arms or legs.
DDD isn't really a disease but a way to refer to the natural breakdown of spinal discs over time. DDD can lead to a loss of disc height that may cause pain, numbness or weakness in the neck, back, arms or legs.
Sometimes, an injury causing severe damage to spinal discs can disrupt them causing a disc to bulge, stick out or lose height, regardless of the aging process, leading to identical symptoms of degenerative disc disease.
There are several risk factors for getting DDD. The most common one is aging, as DDD is a natural, age-related process. Some other risk factors are: traumatic injury, being over weight, playing contact sports, heavy lifting and repetitive motions involving the back.
The symptoms of DDD may include back pain with or without arm or leg pain as well as arm or leg weakness, tingling or numbness. DDD pain often gets worse with movement like bending or twisting. Only a licensed spine specialist can accurately diagnose a spinal condition, like DDD.
A DDD diagnosis starts with a standard questionnaire that details the patient’s symptoms and where they occur. Then, a spine specialist performs a routine physical exam of the back, arms, hands, legs and feet while testing for strength, flexibility, range of motion, reflexes and pain.

The spine specialist may also order some tests, like a bone scan, discogram/discography or myleogram to assist in the diagnosis.
  • Bone Scan: A bone scan can be used to identify health concerns like osteoarthritis, fractures or infections. It is a non-invasive test where a small amount of radioactive medicine is injected into the blood and then absorbed by the bone. More of the medicine will be absorbed in bony areas that are abnormal or problematic. A scan of the spine is then taken and the areas where the medicine has been absorbed will be seen as hot spots and light up on the scan. These hot spots identify where the problem maybe in the spine.
  • Discogram or discography: A test to determine if a specific spinal disc is causing pain or other discomfort. A discogram/discography is a non-invasive test where a medical dye is injected into a suspected problem disc and an x-ray is taken. If the dye stays within the disc space then, the disc is normal. If the dye leaks out, then the disc has a problem, like a herniation or bulge. The test pinpoints the problem disc for the spine specialist to treat.
  • Myelogram: A myelogram is a non-invasive test to determine if the problem is with the spinal cord or in the spinal canal (the bony opening surrounding the spinal cord). A medical dye is injected into the spinal canal and then an x-ray or CT scan is taken. The scan or image will show a detailed picture of the spine and surrounding bones and nerves. By reviewing the scan, the spine specialists can identify any abnormalities or problem areas.
In addition to these tests, the specialist may also order x-rays, computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to get a visual understanding of the spine and associated abnormalities or areas of concern. A CT or MRI shows the soft tissue of the spine, not just the bones like an x-ray, so the spine specialist can identify the location and nature of the problem causing discomfort.
There are many nonsurgical treatments for DDD. Some of the nonsurgical treatment options that may be discussed with a doctor are: pain management, bracing and physical therapy, among others. Only once these non-surgical treatments have been utilized will your physician or surgeon likely discuss surgical options.
There are many nonsurgical treatment options that should be considered prior to making the decision about spine surgery. Spine surgery should be the last option. The more conservative, nonsurgical treatments for back pain and associated arm and leg pain include physical therapy, bracing, pain management and many other options. Only once these conservative treatments have been utilized will your physician or surgeon likely discuss surgical options.
There are many surgical solutions for treating DDD depending upon a patient’s diagnosis, physical condition, surgeon’s training and many other factors. Your surgeon will discuss the options that are available for your situation. One of those options may include an anterior fusion surgical procedure called Anterior Cervical Discectomy Fusion (ACDF) for neck (cervical) conditions, or Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) or Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion (LLIF) for low back (lumbar) conditions. Total disc replacement surgery may also be an option.
Total Disc Replacement surgery removes a diseased disc and replaces it with an artificial device that enables motion.
Only a spine specialist can determine whether you are a candidate for total disc replacement surgery. Different surgeons will have varying opinions about the suitability of a patient for disc replacement surgery, weighing many factors, such as your response to non-surgical therapies, the cause of the symptoms you are experiencing, and the amount of degeneration present in your spine.
A spinal fusion is a surgical procedure performed to resolve pain or discomfort in the back, arms or legs due to a degenerated spinal disc or discs. The procedure should be performed by a spine surgeon and can be done in a hospital or surgery center.

The goal of spinal fusion surgery is to eliminate the motion between two or more vertebrae, the bony segments or bodies of the spine. This motion is often the source of the pain or discomfort generated from a nerve that is being pinched or compressed.

The spine surgeon attempts to eliminate the motion by fusing or joining two or more vertebrae together through the natural healing process that is supported by spinal devices, like interbody cages, bone graft substitutes, pedicle screw systems and many other similar type medical products.

To perform a spinal fusion surgery, the surgeon will approach the spine either from the front (anterior), side (lateral) or back (posterior). The approach the surgeon takes is based upon the diagnosis, patient comorbidities (other medical conditions), surgeon’s preference, education and training.

Once at the location of the degenerated disc(s), the surgeon will remove the problem disc(s) along with any other areas of concern and replace it with a spinal device to restore the height of the disc space, which usually frees a pinched or compressed nerve. The implanted spinal device will also support the body’s natural healing process to achieve a fusion between the adjacent vertebrae. In addition, the spine surgeon will also implant screws or other fixation devices to restrict the motion at the surgical site to aid the healing process as well.

Spinal fusion surgery duration varies depending on a number of factors: patient’s health condition, number of discs being treated, surgical approach, etc. After the procedure, the patient can expect to be in the hospital for up to five days and recovery can take up to eight weeks. The spine surgeon will review the surgery specifics and recovery expectations with the patient prior to the surgery.
In many cases, spine surgery may be performed as an outpatient procedure. This depends on the patient’s diagnosis, the surgical procedure, physical condition, surgeon’s training and many other factors. Your surgeon will discuss the options that are available for your situation.
An Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF) procedure is a cervical (neck) spine surgical procedure that is performed from the front of the neck. During an ACDF procedure, the surgeon will remove the degenerative or diseased disc(s) and replace it with an interbody device, like STALIF C®, to assist in stabilizing the spine, restoring disc height and assisting with fusion or healing of the neighboring vertebral bodies so they grow together.
The time to complete an ACDF procedure depends on a variety of factors including the number of discs that require treatment, whether or not this is a reoperation and the severity of the condition. The surgeon should give you a general idea about surgical time.
An Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) procedure is a lumbar spine surgical procedure that is performed from the front of the body through the lower part of the abdomen. During an ALIF procedure, the surgeon will remove the degenerative or diseased disc(s) and replace it with an interbody device, like STALIF M-Ti™, to assist in stabilizing the spine, restoring disc height and assisting with fusion or healing of the neighboring vertebral bodies so they grow together.
The time to complete an ALIF procedure depends on a variety of factors including the number of discs that require treatment, whether or not this is a reoperation and the severity of the condition. The surgeon should give you a general idea about surgical time.
A Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion (LLIF) procedure is a lumbar spine surgical procedure that is performed from the side of the body through the abdominal muscles. During a LLIF procedure, the surgeon will remove the degenerative or diseased disc(s) and replace it with an interbody device, like STALIF L®, to assist in stabilizing the spine, restoring disc height and assisting with fusion or healing of the neighboring vertebral bodies so they grow together.
The time to complete an LLIF procedure depends on a variety of factors including the number of discs that require treatment, whether or not this is a reoperation and the severity of the condition. The surgeon should give you a general idea about surgical time.
The length of hospital stay after surgery varies by procedure and patient. Typically, a patient may be discharged as early as the same day of surgery or as long as three days after surgery. Your surgeon should provide a general idea about the length of hospital stay.
The decision to go back to work should be discussed with your surgeon and decided on an individual basis. It will be based upon the type of surgical procedure performed, the results of the surgery, the type of work the patient performs, etc. Typically, a patient will return to work within one to six weeks after spine surgery, although full recovery may take up to eight weeks. Your surgeon should provide a general idea about when you can expect to return to work.
Recovery from spine surgery varies by patient and procedure. Most patients will return to their usual life activities (work, sports, shopping, cooking, etc.) within six weeks after spine surgery. For some patients, this may take longer. Your surgeon should provide a general idea about recovery time.
Many patients benefit from physical therapy following spine surgery. Only a spine surgeon can recommend physical therapy following spine surgery. Please ask your surgeon about physical therapy, the type they recommend and for how long.
Total Disc Replacement surgery removes a diseased disc and replaces it with an artificial device that enables motion.
The prodisc Total Disc Replacement is an artificial disc replacement device for the cervical (neck) or lumbar (lower) spine designed to replace your unhealthy disc.
Only your doctor can decide whether prodisc C or prodisc L Total Disc Replacement is the best option for you. In order to be a candidate for the device, you must have a diagnosis of degenerative disc disease at only one level in the cervical or lumbar spine, have had at least six months of non-surgical treatment (e.g., medications, physical therapy) without relief of your symptoms, have specific findings on imaging studies such as X-ray, CT, or MRI, and be old enough so that your bones are mature and no longer growing.
The prodisc C Total Disc Replacement is an artificial disc replacement device for the cervical spine (neck), and the prodisc L Total Disc Replacement is an artificial disc replacement device for the lumbar spine (back).
The prodisc C and L intervertebral disc prosthesis consists of two cobalt chromium molybdenum plates with a titanium coating that allows for bony ingrowth of the prosthesis. A plastic core (polyethylene) located between the plates enables mobility in the spine segment. All these materials are clinically proven to be tolerated very well by the body, and have been used in medical devices for decades. The prodisc design prevents overloading of the adjacent intervertebral discs, as can occur after traditional spinal fusion. Different sizes of the individual components are available to the surgeon, so that he can select the correct size of prosthesis that fits best with your anatomy.
Both prodisc C and prodisc L have been been shown to be safe and effective in long-term clinic studies in the United States, and in other countries. Furthermore, they have been shown to decrease the likelihood of adjacent spinal segment operations, compared to the surgical alternative of a fusion.
prodisc is the most studied total disc replacement in the world, with over 400 published studies detailing the experiences with over 13,000 patients. These studies have illustrated the safety, effectiveness, long-term results, bio-mechanical analyses, and cost-effectiveness of the prodisc total disc replacement.
There are many surgeons that are trained and currently using prodisc Total Disc Replacement devices. To find a surgeon close to you, please use our “Find a Surgeon” surgeon locator.

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Your medical history is extremely important to the success of the operation. Before surgery, your doctor will consider your occupation and activity level, your overall health, the condition of the other levels of your spine, any medications you are taking, and any allergies you have to determine the best course of treatment for you. Your doctor will also discuss the procedure at length as well as its potential risks and benefits.
Whether you are having a prodisc C or L Total Disc Replacement, you will be placed under general anesthesia. For prodisc L procedures, the surgeon accesses the spine through a small incision in your abdomen. During either surgery, the doctor will remove the unhealthy disc and expand the intervertebral disc space using special instruments to decompress the nerve root and create space for the prosthesis. Following measurement of the appropriate size and precise preparation of the implant area, the implant is inserted centrally under X-ray control.
Typically, your surgeon will greet you in the recovery room, and you may possibly stay at the hospital overnight. You will be provided with instructions on post-operative treatment, such as physiotherapy, mobilization, muscle build-up, etc. After some months, significant ingrowth of the prosthesis into the bone has occurred. This can be verified by x-ray during a follow-up examination. Follow-up examinations are performed at regular intervals to guarantee the greatest possible safety and care in this surgical method. Please discuss your occupational and sporting activities directly with your physician.
It is an acronym for STand-ALone Interbody Fusion.
STALIF is a revolutionary Integrated Interbody™ device for anterior or lateral spinal fusion surgical procedures that may not require additional implants for fixation. STALIF is used during anterior cervical, or anterior or lateral lumbar, spinal fusion procedures to replace a diseased or disrupted disc to restore spinal health and support the healing process.
The STALIF C device is smaller in diameter and height and is surgically implanted in the cervical spine (neck). STALIF M and STALIF L are larger devices in diameter and height with a more elongated shape and are surgically implanted in the lumbar spine (back). STALIF C and STALIF M devices are used in anterior spine surgery and STALIF L devices are used in lateral spine surgery.
STALIF C, STALIF M, and STALIF L devices have multiple material options. All 3 devices are available in polyether-etherketone (PEEK), which is a medical grade plastic, and some versions of the PEEK STALIF C and STALIF M devices are covered with Ti-ACTIVE™, a commercially pure microporous titanium surface. All 3 devices are also available in FLX™, a 3D-printed porous titanium solution. Regardless of material option, all STALIF devices are designed to restore spinal alignment and disc height while supporting the healing or fusion process.
All STALIF devices have undergone standard biomechanical testing, been studied clinically and have been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Only your doctor can decide whether a STALIF fusion is the best option for you. In order to be a candidate for STALIF fusion, you must have a diagnosis of degenerative disc disease at one or two contiguous levels in the cervical or lumbar spine, have specific findings on imaging studies such as X-ray, CT, or MRI, and be old enough so that your bones are mature and no longer growing. You must also have had at least six weeks of non-surgical treatment (e.g., medications, physical therapy) without relief of your symptoms to be a candidate for STALIF cervical devices; to be a candidate for STALIF lumbar devices, you must had had six months of non-surgical treatment without relief of your symptoms.
There are many surgeons that are trained and currently using a STALIF device. To find a surgeon close to you, please use our "Find a Surgeon" surgeon locator by clicking the button below.

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rediscover is a program sponsored by Centinel Spine. Centinel Spine created rediscover with the mission to increase awareness around neck and back discomfort and the surgical treatment options available, including both the traditional fusion option and the motion preserving option. rediscover is dedicated to building a community that provides hope, support, and information to patients suffering from neck and back discomfort and considering surgical intervention.
Our Patient Ambassadors are former neck and back pain sufferers who have undergone prodisc® Total Disc Replacement or STALIF fusion procedures and have regained their lives. They volunteer their time to share their experiences and inspire others who may be facing spine surgery.
Our spokespeople are specially-selected and well-known figures who have undergone surgical intervention with either prodisc or STALIF medical device systems and are willing to share their experiences to inspire others through story-sharing, personal appearances at events, webcasts, and other awareness initiatives—providing their non-medical perspective, educational information, and encouragement to patients considering surgical treatment.
The Patient Resource Center provides additional information and resources to help educate you about prodisc® Total Disc Replacement and STALIF fusion. These include a Surgeon Locator as well as written and video testimonials of our Ambassadors and Spokespeople.

They Regained Their Lives

These individuals can inspire your journey to healing and living free from spine-induced pain and discomfort.


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