Cervical discs act as shock absorbers between the cervical vertebrae, allowing your neck to move freely. After a diseased or otherwise damaged intervertebral disc has been removed during surgical decompression of the spinal cord or nerve root, an artificial cervical disc can be inserted between two cervical vertebrae, preserving motion. The procedure is reserved for individuals who have not responded to nonsurgical treatment.
When a cervical disc fails, one vertebra sinks into the one below it, causing compression around the spinal cord. This is where the insertion of an artificial cervical disc is helpful.
There are several advantages to replacement with an artificial cervical disc:
- maintenance of normal neck motion
- reduced degeneration of adjacent vertebrae
- no need for a bone graft
- quicker restoration of postoperative neck motion
- more rapid recovery time
Recovery from an artificial cervical disc replacement will take about six weeks, during which your surgeon may recommend avoiding repetitive or sudden movements, heavy lifting or reaching above your head. Immediately after surgery, you will be permitted to walk on level ground and perform gentle exercises in a swimming pool, although swimming with repetitive neck-turning movements should be avoided.
Postsurgical physical therapy usually lasts around six weeks. Stretching exercises will provide flexibility, and aerobic exercises will improve body conditioning. Resistance training with weights improves strength and stability, especially in the neck. Exercising with a stationary bicycle, regular bicycle, stair-climber, weight machine and elliptical machine follow, but sit-ups should be avoided until instructed otherwise.
Ultimately, your physician will decide if you are an appropriate candidate for an artificial cervical disc. Following surgery, we can design a special exercise regimen that will restore your body to full range of motion, flexibility and stability.