Treatment Options

Every person responds to treatment differently and it’s important to educate yourself and work with your doctor(s) to find the options that work best for your situation. Whether you’re exploring conservative care or seeking a surgical solution, we have information for you.

What are the Options for Treating Spinal Conditions?

Your doctor will likely first use treatment options such as physical therapy, heat, and anti-inflammatory medications. For the vast majority of patients, pain will subside over time using these types of conservative methods.

Additional forms of treatment may become necessary—such as injections and nerve root blocks. If found effective, these treatments can be performed several times by a pain management physician or physiatrist. These injections work by decreasing inflammation and, ultimately, the pain from irritated nerves.

If conservative forms of treatment fail to relieve your symptoms, then surgery may be presented as an option.


What Are the Different
Surgical Options?

What is Disc Replacement?

Total disc replacement (TDR) may be a solution for some patients with degenerative disc disease as an alternative to spinal fusion. Early research into artificial disc replacement began in the 1960s because of the complications sometimes caused by spinal fusion. Insurance coverage changes over the last few years have enabled more and more patients to receive this alternative procedure to become the fastest growing procedure in spine.

Disc Replacement Surgery

During disc replacement surgery, the doctor removes your damaged disc and replaces it with an artificial disc. The goals of total disc replacement surgery are to maintain spinal balance and motion, reduce adjacent level degeneration, and allow patients to get back to activities of daily living.

Disc replacement surgery is performed by a spine surgeon in either the cervical or neck region of the spine, or in the lumbar or lower back region. The surgical approach for the neck and lower back is through the front—referred to as an anterior approach. Disc replacement surgery starts with surgical access to the spine, followed by removal of the patient’s diseased disc. Once the diseased disc has been removed, the total disc replacement is implanted.

A disc replacement device consists of two cobalt chrome endplates containing and articulating over a domed polyethylene core to restore stable motion to the spine. The clinical trials on disc replacement proved the effectiveness of this option—specifically a reduction in pain and improvement in a patient's quality of life. Disc replacement is not appropriate for all patients. Please consult your physician to find out if this procedure is right for you.

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What is Spinal Fusion?

Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure where two or more vertebra are fused, or connected, together to permanently eliminate all motion in the spine at that level. Spinal fusion involves removing the patient’s diseased disc and inserting a device to allow bone growth between two vertebral bodies—essentially fusing two vertebral bodies into one rigid segment.

Spinal Fusion Surgery

Spine surgery can be performed utilizing an anterior (front), approach through an incision in your abdomen or neck. A lateral (side) approach uses an incision in your side. A posterior (back) approach may also be used thorough an incision in your back or the back of your neck. There are several advantages to using an anterior approach, including: less muscle disruption, greater anterior column support (80% of the load on your spine goes through the anterior column), and the ability to place a larger implant to better fusion. During spinal fusion surgery, the diseased spinal disc is removed.

An interbody device is inserted in the spine to replace the diseased disc. Sometimes, the surgeon may also insert a metal plate that bridges the adjacent vertebral bodies to stabilize the spine.

Alternatively, your surgeon may use an "integrated interbody" device—a single device that replaces the diseased disc. The integrated device is then secured with specially-designed screws.

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