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What is Cervical Disk Replacement Surgery?

Your cervical spine forms a protective tunnel for the upper part of your spinal cord to pass through. That protection is critical because this part of your spinal cord contains the spinal nerves that supply your upper body with sensation and movement. The cervical disks play an important role in cushioning the areas that lie between each cervical vertebrae, acting as shock absorbers to allow your neck to move.

The older we get, the more wear and tear our body sustains. Your back and spine are especial susceptible as they are more prone to repetitive motions. Depending on factors that include heredity and lifestyle, the cervical disks begin to collapse and bulge with age around age 60.

When Cervical Disk Replacement Surgery Is Needed?

As the deterioration occurs within your vertebrae and it becomes too narrow, part of your vertebrae or your cervical disk can press on your spinal cord or spinal nerves, causing you pain, numbness, or weakness. When these symptoms do not respond to conservative treatment, disk surgery may be necessary for relief.

What Happens During Cervical Disk Replacement Surgery?

Replacement surgery is just what it sounds like: the diseased cervical disk is removed and replaced with an artificial disk. Disk replacement surgery may have the advantage of allowing more movement and creating less stress on your remaining vertebrae than traditional cervical disk surgery.

Symptoms of Cervical Disk Degeneration may include:

  • Neck pain
  • Neck stiffness
  • Headache
  • Pain that travels down into your shoulders or into your arms
  • Weakness of your shoulders, arms, hands, or legs
  • Numbness or “needles” feeling in your arms

What To Expect With Disk Replacement Surgery?

After cervical artificial disc replacement surgery, some patients go home the same day whereas others spend a night in the hospital. Disk replacement surgery is a relatively safe and common procedure. As always, discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.