The Spine Institute of Southern New Jersey
 
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Lumbar Artificial Disc Replacement

Lumbar Artificial Disc Replacement is one of the treatment options for lumbar (lower back) disc disease.

Vertebral discs, composed of “cartilaginous” tissue (softer than bones and somewhat flexible, with characteristics similar to connective tissue between muscles and bones), form joints between the bones (vertebrae) of the back and neck, allowing the spine to bend. In lumbar degenerative disc disease, a disc between vertebrae degenerates, with loss of water causing hardening or weakening. The degeneration may simply be the result of aging, but may also be related to injuries or other disorders, such as arthritis.

Effects can include pain and lost flexibility in the affected area. The disc may also herniate (protrude), which, along with compression of the space between vertebrae that healthy discs maintain, can create pressure on the spinal cord or the spinal nerves extending from the spine to other parts of the body. Resulting symptoms may include pain in the lower back that may radiate outward to the legs, tingling, overall weakness, difficulty with walking and coordination, and generally reduced strength or mobility.

Surgery is usually recommended for cases that have not responded to nonsurgical treatments, which may include pain medication, rest, and physical therapy. The traditional surgical procedure for lumbar degenerative disc disease is spinal fusion, in which diseased disc tissue is removed and the space between the discs filled with bone grafts which, in combination with natural bone growth, fill the space and fuse the two vertebrae together over a period of months following the surgery.

Lumbar artificial disc replacement is a newer, alternative treatment in which an artificial replacement disc is implanted between the two vertebrae. Since the artificial disc functions similarly to a natural, healthy disc, the patient may be able to achieve greater mobility than would result from a spinal fusion.

Not everyone is a candidate for artificial disc replacement. Factors that affect the choice of treatment may include the patient's general health or the overall condition of the spine. The medical team at The Spine Institute of Southern New Jersey will work closely with the patient and the referring physician to determine the best treatment options.