For patients with low back pain from disc damage who have tried conservative treatments without success for more than six months, artificial disc replacement is sometimes an option worth considering. ADR is an alternative to spine fusion surgery where the damaged disc is replaced with one of two devices approved for such use by the FDA. For LBP sufferers, it presents a less-invasive relief option.
What’s Involved with ADR
Artificial disc replacement involves the removal of the painful disc. The space left after the disc is removed is filled with a prosthetic metal implant to stabilize the spine. While similar to knee or hip replacement, just one of the three joints between each vertebra is replaced. While fusion surgery is still more common, ADR is appealing to patients because of the following benefits:
- There are usually fewer complications
- It’s a less invasive procedure
- Range of motion is preserved
- Recovery time is shorter
ADR and Chronic Low Back Pain
Just because a patient isn’t responding to non-surgical spine treatments doesn’t mean any type of surgery is the next option. A combination of X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs are used to evaluate the lower spine and supporting joints. Since LBP can have multiple sources, process of elimination is also part of the diagnostic process.
Ideal Candidates for ADR
Not all patients with identified lumbar disc damage are ideal candidates for the procedure. While ADR has been around for over a decade, it has a limited pathology; meaning there are some sources of back pain that won’t respond well to the procedure. Although there’s not enough research to conclusively establish criteria for “perfect candidates” for ADR, results of recent studies suggest better odds of a successful outcome for patients with:
- LBP from degenerative disc disease
- DDD combined with disc herniation
- Disc damage limited to one or two levels
Most people experiencing LBP aren’t going to need surgery. Even when ADR does become a possibility for a patient, surgeons may recommend traditional spinal fusion surgery. Before agreeing with recommendations, patients are encouraged to seek a second opinion and explore non-surgical treatments that may not have been previously considered.
If you’re considering disc replacement or would like a second opinion, reach out to Dr. Bae and his team at The Spine Institute Center in Los Angeles. Dr. Bae and his team of diagnosticians and spine specialists can confirm your diagnosis and may be able to offer additional treatment options. Schedule an in-person consultation by call (310) 828-7757 today.