Sure, your neck holds up your head, but it’s also responsible for enabling many of your senses — you turn your head to see, hear, and even smell. When there’s a problem in your neck, not only is the discomfort hard to bear, your world can become much smaller.
Such is often the case with a diseased cervical disc, which can lead to pain in your neck and arm, and limit the range of motion in your neck (and head).
The team here at Texas Spine Consultants, including Michael Hennessy, MD, Andrew Park, MD, Chester Donnally, MD, Robert Viere, MD, and Heidi Lee, MD, specializes in solving neck issues due to degenerative disc disease. As part of our efforts, we endeavor to offer the most innovative solutions available, including the Mobi-C® artificial cervical disc.
Here, we explain how replacing, versus simply removing, a disc in your spine can help relieve your pain and preserve function.
When discs break down
In order to understand why replacing a diseased disc in your neck is beneficial, it’s helpful to understand the many roles of intervertebral discs in your spine.
In between the 33 vertebrae that stretch from the base of your head to your pelvis are 23 discs that perform many important functions, including:
- Providing space between vertebrae
- Acting as shock absorbers along your spine
- Providing room for nerve roots to exit your spine
- Encouraging movement along your spine
To accomplish all this, your discs are made with a tough outer layer called the annulus, which houses a jelly-like substance on the inside called the nucleus pulposus.
With age and use, these discs can break down, becoming more brittle and flatter, which are the hallmarks of degenerative disc disease (DDD). This condition affects most people as they grow older — by the age of 60, about 90% of people have some degree of DDD.
DDD doesn’t always cause symptoms, but if a diseased disc starts to compress a nerve root, it can lead to local and radiating pain. When this happens in the neck, for example, you can experience neck pain, as well as pain, numbness, and tingling that travels down into your arm.
Why replacing is better than removing
To address a damaged disc in the neck that hasn’t responded to conservative treatments, we traditionally turned to a procedure in which we removed the disc and fused the two vertebrae together. While effective in relieving the discomfort, this approach leads to a loss in range of motion in the neck.
To combat this, we offer the Mobi-C artificial cervical disc, a device that allows us to preserve your ability to move your head freely. First, we remove the damaged disc in your neck and then we install the artificial disc, which is designed to allow:
- Front-to-back movement
- Side-to-side movement
- Head rotation
With the Mobi-C artificial disc, we can not only relieve the symptoms in your neck and arm, we can help keep your head supported and moving in a way that allows you to stay fully engaged in the world around you.
If you’d like to explore whether an artificial disc is right for your cervical disc disease, contact one of our offices in Addison or Plano, Texas, to schedule a consultation with one of our spine experts.