Your Comprehensive Guide To Cervical Disc Replacement
The spine is a pretty complex network of bones, nerves, and tissues that is responsible for a lot of movement, including your head and neck. If you’re feeling extreme pain in the neck, so much so that it’s compromising your movement, then you probably need to visit a doctor and get to the bottom of the problem because they can determine if you need a disc replacement surgery. Here is your guide to cervical disc replacement.
What Is Cervical Disc Replacement Surgery?
Your spine is made up of small sections of bones called vertebrae and they’re connected in a long line, from the base of your hips to the top of the neck. In between each vertebra, there are soft tissues that cushion any impact on the bones and those are called cervical discs. These discs are soft and spongy and they spring back any force that’s trying to do some serious impact damage to your body.
These discs, over time, can get damaged and can lose their bouncy and springy characteristics, which is not a good sign because you need some sort of cushion for your spine, even in everyday activities. If the discs are damaged, then it’s best that you get them replaced. If the damage is near the discs of the neck, then it can lead to restriction in rotating and moving the neck, moving your head up and down, and a long list of other bone complications.
So, you should consult with a doctor and figure out a way to get out of this mess. Replacing the damaged discs for new prosthetic ones is a process known as cervical disc replacement.
Who Should Get A Cervical Disc Replacement?
Before getting into what happens in the surgery and all that, it’s important to know who are the eligible patients that can get a cervical disc replacement and pave their path to full recovery. Here’s all that you need to know:
Patients who have herniated discs are perfect candidates for getting this surgery done. A herniated disc is extremely painful and it can almost jam your neck, to the point where you can’t move the head, without feeling pinches of excruciating pain.
So, if you want to get free from the clutches of life-long neck pains, then this is the surgery that you need to go for.
Patients who have had a bad accident that has affected their neck are also able to find relief with this surgery. Usually, discs can get damaged or pressed down by an impact and those need to be replaced with artificial ones, otherwise moving your neck will be nothing less than a painful task and you don’t want to experience that.
Moreover, if your neck pain is radiating down towards your arm, then that’s alarming and you will be advised to go forward with the disc replacement surgery right away.
If patients have bone problems that are not associated with bone degenerative disorders, then they can go for this surgery. Patients, however, who suffer from arthritis or osteoporosis are not good candidates for this surgery because the degeneration of the bones is not going to do any good and you will keep feeling pain in other areas of the neck, even if the damaged disc is replaced.
These bone disorders usually start from hands, feet, or knees. So, consult your orthopedic doctor for knee pain Woodbridge as well because they might also suggest management of the bone disorder.
What Happens Before A Cervical Disc Replacement Surgery?
Here is what you can expect before and during a cervical disc replacement surgery.
First things first, your doctor will make you complete all of the paperwork, that involves consent, emergency procedures, and other protocols.
You also need to get your blood work done, before the surgery, so that your surgeon can give you the go-ahead.
A few days or a week before the surgery, all kinds of heart-regulating, blood-thinning medications, and smoking will be prohibited.
Cervical Disc Replacement Surgery Procedure
On the day of the surgery, you will be administered anesthesia in the operating room.
Once you’re knocked out, an incision, about 2 inches big, will be made on your neck from the front and your damaged disc will be located with an x-ray fluoroscopy.
Afterwards, the damaged discs will be removed while taking care of the surrounding nerves and an implant will be prepared. The implant is usually made out of medical-grade nickel and other prosthetic materials and has teeth that sit on the base of the disc’s original place. The implant is set in place and screwed on.
Last-minute touch-ups are made to ensure that everything is in place and aligned and the incision is stitched back. The anesthesia starts to wear off and soon you regain consciousness.
Side Effects Of Cervical Disc Replacement Surgery
Probably the biggest problem after a cervical disc replacement surgery is the possibility of infection in the incision. So, you want to ensure that you’re taking extra care of the cut and cleaning it with alcohol pads, keeping pressure off the wound, icing it for 15-20 minutes, twice or thrice a day, and keeping it primarily dry at all times.
If you feel like a fever is spiking, then you immediately need to visit your doctor because fever and swelling in the incision are the first two signs of an infection.
Stiffness in the neck is also a major issue that can come with the aftermath of the surgery. So, you want to ensure that you’re not completely giving up on all movement. Keep your neck elevated and try to stretch and move it around for a couple of minutes to keep everything going.
If you immediately stop the movement and start it again out of nowhere, then it’s going to be extremely painful and you will feel tender yet stiff in the area of the implant. So, light neck exercises are crucial.
Healing And Aftermath
Here are some things that you need to remember after the surgery is completed.
You will feel pain. That’s a no-brainer, which is why the doctor will prescribe you medication to deal with the pain and swelling. You can take those for a couple of days, after which the pain will subside.
Keep showering at bay until your surgeon suggests you to shower. It’s okay for you to hop into the shower after 2 to 3 days. This time frame is enough for the stitches to seal your skin and there are fewer chances of the wound getting wet and infected.
Eat high-fiber foods and keep your body hydrated, because the hardcore pain medication you’re taking can cause a halt in the normal bowel movement, so you need to nourish your body, so it doesn’t fall victim to constipation.
Difficult To Swallow Food
As your neck has a reasonable-sized incision, it might be hard to swallow food. Although you don’t need to switch to a liquid or semi-solid diet, just make sure to avoid choking on your food, by taking small bites, chewing on it, and swallowing it slowly.
Cervical disc replacement is a very common way of getting your discs replaced especially if you’ve had a bad accident and the discs are beyond repair. Only trust the advice of spine and back doctors Woodbridge for correct diagnosis and treatment.