Written by Jane Yellow
The spinal column is one of the most important pieces of our anatomy. Without the spinal column, we wouldn’t have the ability to bend, twist, or stretch to a number of different positions. This is possible because of the way that the spinal column develops. The bones in the spine that give support are called the vertebrae. These offer structure, support, and give the spine the shape of the column on which the rest of the abdomen will develop. Lumbar discs are the cushioning material which is located in between each of those vertebrae. They aid with the flexibility and the motion of the spinal column, making it possible for us to bend and twist.
As we get older, the discs in our backs will begin to degenerate. This is a natural occurrence and on its own, it is nothing to be concerned about. The problem comes, however, when a person begins to experience lower back pain because of this degeneration. Often, this lower back pain is so extreme that it stops a person from performing all of the normal functions of their day. It becomes difficult to do even the most basic motions and the pain can be considered crippling.
Surgery to help correct this degenerative disc disease would certainly be recommended. The problem lies in exactly which method to take. Two options are generally available to a person who needs lumbar disc support. One of them has been the standard for many decades now. The other is a new and innovative approach to helping stop lower back pain from lumbar disc degeneration.
The method which has been predominately used is that of spinal fusion surgery . In this method, doctors will operate on the vertebrae in your spinal column around where the lumbar disc has degenerated. By removing the remnants of the ruined disc, they will open up a space that they can operate in. They work to stimulate bone growth in this area and they essentially fuse the upper vertebrae to the lower one in place of the lumbar disc which was once present there.
Typically, this procedure has a great success rate of removing all lower back pain which a person typically felt. It will give them the ability to move around again and all of the crippling pain which once stopped them will be gone. A few problems do arise out of this method of surgery, however. First, the vertebrae are fused together now. There will be no flexibility among these vertebrae and the spinal column at this level will remain completely rigid.
While this method will cure the pain, it will also make you much more stiff and unable to properly bend or twist. Additionally, because these two vertebrae are now fused together, additional stress will be placed above and below this location on the spinal column. It increases the risks to the lumbar discs in those positions and opens the possibility of lower back pain to begin all over again.
This is why so many people will look for alternatives to spinal fusion surgery. The answer may have come in the form of disc replacement surgery . By removing the lumbar disc which has been affected by degenerative disc disease and replacing it with an artificial spinal disc, lower back pain can be treated with ease. This artificial disc should give anyone the mobility that spinal fusion does not and allow them to continue to move, bend, and twist as they did before their disc started to age.
The artificial spinal disc itself is usually comprised of two different metal discs, traditionally made out of titanium. After the degenerated lumbar disc is removed, the ends of the vertebrae will be shaped to hold the new artificial disc. These metal plates will then be attached to each end of the bone of the vertebrae. Sometimes they are held in place by metal spikes, which should hold these plates in place until the bone has grown over the plate, holding it in place. A plastic spacer with a polyethylene core will be put between the two plates before the patient is sewn back up. This will serve as the artificial spinal disc. The natural body weight of the patient will help to compress the disc and keeps it acting naturally within the body.
There are risks associated with a disc replacement surgery, just as there are with any surgery. Generally, however, this form of surgery will be one of the best alternatives to spinal fusion surgery which is available. Lower back pain should be eliminated with an artificial spinal disc and full mobility will be maintained, which is something that spinal fusion does not allow. While being a relatively new method, it is one of the best ways to combat degenerative disc disease and help cure all of the pain which a bad lumbar disc could provide.