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Cervical Disc Replacement

Artificial discs can help treat the pain and disability caused by degenerative disc disease, a condition that affects an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 people in the U.S. each year.

As people age, the cervical discs can start to collapse and bulge, narrowing the space between the vertebrae. When this happens, part of the vertebrae or cervical disc may press against the spinal cord or spinal nerves, causing pain, numbness and/or weakness.

With cervical disc replacement surgery, surgeons remove a diseased cervical disc and replace it with an artificial disc. This procedure is sometimes used as an alternative to traditional spinal fusion surgery, in which two or more vertebrae are permanently joined — or fused — together.

Disc replacement may offer some advantages over spinal fusion, such as enabling greater range of motion and creating less stress on the remaining vertebrae. The hospital stay and recovery period are also relatively short: Patients typically can go home within 24 to 48 hours with minimal activity limitations.

Is cervical disc replacement right for me?

Your spine surgeon at Rush may recommend disc replacement in the following cases:

  • You have symptomatic cervical disc disease. Symptoms include the following:
    • Neck pain or stiffness
    • Arm pain, numbness or a “pins and needles” sensation
    • Weakness in your shoulders, arms, hands or legs
    • Pain that travels down into your shoulders or arms
  • You have tried conservative therapy (anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy) for at least four to six weeks and are still experiencing symptoms
  • You have not had prior neck surgery
  • You are in good overall health and can tolerate surgery

In some cases, spinal fusion may be the best option. Your spine surgeon will discuss all of your options and determine which procedure is right for you.

Why choose Rush for cervical disk replacement

  • Rush is consistently ranked among the top U.S. hospitals for orthopedics and neurosurgery by U.S. News & World Report.
  • When it comes to disc replacement surgery, the experience of your surgeon can make a difference in how well you do. Spine surgeons at Rush were among the first in Chicago to perform both lumbar and cervical disc replacement.
  • Spine surgeons at Rush are leaders in minimally invasive spine and back surgery. Over the years, they have helped to develop and perfect minimally invasive techniques that enable many procedures — including spinal fusion — to be performed using incisions smaller than a paper clip. That means patients have less pain, less scarring, a shorter hospital stay and a quicker recovery.
  • As team physicians for the Chicago Bulls, Chicago White Sox and many other teams, orthopedic surgeons at Rush are experts at diagnosing, treating and rehabilitating spine, back and neck injuries in athletes of all ages.