After years of spinal injections to alleviate chronic neck pain, Laura Luker’s physician, Stanford Tack, M.D., recommended she seriously consider a cervical arthroplasty, also known as artificial disc replacement surgery.
Laura is a regular patient of Dr. Tack’s. In fact ten years prior, she trusted him to perform a lumbar laminectomy to remove bone spurs that were putting pressure on her spinal nerves. This condition made walking and standing very painful. She was so pleased with the results that she credited Dr. Tack with returning quality to her life, enabling her to walk again pain free. So Laura took his advice to heart and gave serious consideration to disc replacement.
Cervical discs are basically what cushion the bones in the neck. Envision a stack of dinner plates, each plate represents bone; now imagine cushioned packing material between each plate, that represents the discs. When patients such as Laura have multiple damaged or diseased discs there are few surgical options from which to choose: spinal fusion or disc replacement.
With spinal fusion, the damaged disc is removed and the bones are grafted together for stabilization. That grafted area is called a ‘fusion’ – however, the fusion prevents the bones from ever moving again, impairing the patient’s mobility.
Disc replacement, on the other hand, involves replacing the damaged disc with an artificial disc and allowing the bones to maintain their natural range of motion, thereby restoring the patient’s mobility.
Some patients who have more than one disc that needs replacing (adjacent or non-adjacent), require multi-disc replacement surgery. While not all patients are ideal candidates for single or multiple disc replacement surgery, studies have shown that patients are less likely to need a second surgery if their discs are replaced rather than fused.
Now that multi-disc replacement surgery is covered by Medicare, patients are finding it’s an option worth considering. Dr. Tack explains that “it can be done on an outpatient basis, the patient is often back to work in one week and physical therapy is usually completed within six weeks.”
After some research and consideration, Laura decided to move forward with the surgery. “Dr. Tack operated on me April 5. I was amazed at how quickly I recovered and wish I had the surgery sooner. After only a few weeks, I was literally PAIN FREE! It is such a wonderful thing to start living again without pain every day. I am so grateful to Dr. Tack for all he did in taking away my ‘pain in the neck’ that I decided to write him a formal letter of thanks on May 16. For the second time in my life, he returned quality to my life, enabling me to go about my daily life without pain.”