I've heard a lot about artificial discs. Who can be treated with these?
Artificial disc replacement (ADR) or total disc replacement (TDR) is a solution if you have disabling pain from disc degeneration in the low back or neck. ADRs provide pain relief while preserving motion.
Low back ADRs are typically used for low back pain, while neck artificial disc replacements are used for both neck and arm pain caused by a pinched nerve from a damaged disc. Patients are generally not considered candidates for lumbar (low back) artificial disc replacement surgery unless they have failed to find relief from active therapy with or without injections and medications for a period of at least six months and are being considered and evaluated for a lumbar fusion.

  • Patients with low bone density
  • Patients with a significant curve of the spine
  • Patients with instability or too much motion of the spine with bending

A cervical (neck) ADR may be appropriate if a patient has not responded to a minimum of six weeks of treatment with medication, therapy or injections and is being considered for a fusion. Patients with osteoporosis or fractured spines are generally not candidates. Only after being evaluated by a surgeon can it be determined if TDR is a viable option for you.

Fortunately, the surgeons at Texas Back Institute in Plano, TX are leaders in the field of disc replacement. The first Charité and ProDisc artificial disc replacements implanted in the United States were done in Plano by Texas Back Institute spine surgeons. Many U.S. spine surgeons, both orthopedic and neurosurgical spine specialists, have been trained directly by Texas Back Institute surgeons. Since performing the first ADR procedure in the United States in 2000, Texas Back Institute has performed more than 1,500 artificial disc replacement procedures with more than 14 different types of ADR devices.

I don't want to have surgery. What are my other options?
Do you suggest participating in back research studies?
I feel like I’ve tried everything to relieve my back pain. Do you suggest participating in back research studies? The first thing to do is contact your current spine doctor about any trials he or she might be conducting. Fortunately, there are many different research studies for the treatment of back pain and you just might be a candidate.

Secondly, our back research page provides information about candidates for individual studies and clinics where the research is performed. Call a center near you and ask about specific trials. If you are a match for the criteria, they will send you information about what treatments are involved, the potential benefits and risks, costs and what’s required to get started. For example, you will likely be asked to complete questionnaires, have x-rays or MRI scans, and other requirements. Be aware that many studies require you to complete questionnaires and have x-rays made for several follow up visits, including annual check-ups for two to five years.

How should I decide if spinal surgery is right for me?
It depends on your diagnosis.  For some conditions, such as infections or fractures, surgery may be the only treatment option.  For most other conditions, like herniated discs or sciatica, conservative care treatment, including medications and physical therapy, is the first treatment option. If physical therapy and medications do not work, patients may need a spinal injection.  At Texas Back Institute surgery is always a last resort. At each step along the way, we reevaluate the patient and the effects of the spine pain on function and lifestyle.  Once the patient gets to an acceptable level of pain and function, we slow down and hopefully the patient continues to get better.

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