Artificial Disc Replacement Animation

Artificial disc replacement:  Who could benefit from this type of spine surgery? What spine conditions is it used for?  Should you have it to address your back pain?

This short animation gives you an overview of artificial disc replacement for the spine.  SpineUniverse also has several articles on artifical disc replacement (see list in the sidebar), and one of our spine expert bloggers is a leader in the artifical disc field.  You should check out Dr. Scott Blumenthal's blog (All About Artifical Disc Replacement) after you watch this animation.

Degenerative Disc Disease and Artificial Disc Replacement

In your spine, you have intervertebral discs.  These are, as the name suggests, in between your vertebrae (the bones of your spine), and the intervertebral discs help cushion your movements. 

However, over time and with use, they can "wear out."  Think of it as the aging process of your spine (although not everyone with degenerated discs is old; the discs can also be damaged from injury or overuse).

Every day, we put our backs through a lot:  walking, exercising, lifting things, sitting, etc.  All these activities can eventually lead to degenerated intervertebral discs.  Your doctor may even say you have "degenerative disc disease."  (Learn more about that in our Degenerative Disc Disease Center).

When you have a degenerated disc (or discs), your spine doesn't work as well as it once did, and you can experience back pain. 

There are several non-surgical treatments to try for degenerative disc disease, including physical therapy and medications.  If these non-surgical treatments do not help relieve your pain, your doctor may suggest surgery.

One possible type of surgery for degenerative disc disease is artifical disc replacement.

How Artificial Disc Replacement Spine Surgery Works

The damaged intervertebral disc is removed by the surgeon.  Then he or she replaces the disc with a prosthetic metal and polyethylene disc.  As you see in the animation, there are metal endplates that are put in first and tapped into place.  The artificial disc (the polyethylene disc) is inserted between these endplates. 

The artificial disc helps return your spine to more normal movement.  One of the issues with a degenerated disc is that it can become thin and the vertebrae can start to rub on each other; this is what can make it painful and difficult to move.  With an artificial disc, the vertebrae will be kept apart and they won't rub on each other anymore.

Artifical disc replacement can help relieve your back pain, lower back pain, or neck pain.  Talk to your doctor about whether this spine surgery is an option for you.


Updated on: 03/22/16