Disc Replacement

This procedure, as well as anterior cervical discectomy, can be used to relieve pressure on the nerve roots or spinal cord caused by a slipped disc or bone spur, or a degenerative condition such as osteoarthritis or osteoporosis. It is often carried out if fusion surgery has not improved your symptoms.

Which conditions can be improved by this procedure?

People who can typically be helped include those who:

  •     Have back pain caused by a specific disc
  •     Do not have other joint disease
  •     Are not overweight
  •     Have not had previous surgery on the lower spine
  •     Do not have scoliosis

What does the procedure involve?

You will be given a general anaesthetic and the procedure will be carried out through your abdomen, with the internal organs moved to one side. Surgery usually takes around three hours. The disc and/or bone spurs are removed so that the parts which are pressing on the nerve can be removed. Once the nerve has been released, the disc is replaced with a prosthetic (artificial) one which may be metal or metal and plastic.

How successful is it?

Because you do not have to wait for bone to heal, recovery can be faster than with other surgery. You will be given a personalised rehabilitation programme which can help speed your recovery and relieve your symptoms.

How long does it take to recover?

  • Recovery can take from a few weeks to several months
  • After surgery, you’ll be given a collar to wear but will be able to get up, walk around, and move your neck a little; you can gradually increase your movement as you follow your targeted rehabilitation programme
  • Most patients go home the day after surgery
  • Pain in your back should improve in the months after surgery

When can I return to work?

Your surgeon will be able to advise you about this, depending on your rate of progress and recovery. However, most people should be able to return to work about six weeks after surgery, depending on the type of activity involved in the job you do.

When can I return to sport?

Your surgeon will be able to advise you about this.

Important: This information is only a guideline to help you understand your treatment and what to expect. Everyone is different and your rehabilitation may be quicker or slower than other people’s. Please contact us for advice if you’re worried about any aspect of your health or recovery.