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Lumbar 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.

Lumbar disc replacement surgery involves removing a diseased disc from the lower part of your spine and replacing it with a metal or metal and plastic implant. Sometimes, two discs need to be replaced.

The procedure helps to reduce pain and other symptoms, including numbness and weakness in the legs. It is an alternative to traditional spinal fusion surgery, in which two or more vertebrae are permanently joined — or fused — together.

Lumbar disc replacement is a major surgical procedure, performed under general anesthesia, requiring a two- to four-day hospital stay. Most people recover within a few months, and some are able to return to their normal routines within a few weeks.

Is lumbar disc replacement right for me?

In most cases, spine specialists at Rush will first try addressing your symptoms with anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy. If these conservative therapies don’t help, your spine specialist may recommend surgery.

For some people, spinal fusion is the best option. You may be a good candidate for disc replacement if the following are true:

  • Your back pain stems from only one or two discs
  • You are not obese and don’t have any other serious surgical risks
  • You don’t have significant joint disease or nerve compression
  • You haven’t had any previous spinal surgeries
  • You don’t have a spinal deformity, such as scoliosis

Your spine surgeon will discuss all of your options and determine which procedure is right for you.

Why choose Rush for lumbar disc 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.