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Cervical Disc Problems and What You Can Do About Them

Posted by Midwest Orthopaedic Consultants on December 3, 2019

cervical-disc-problems-and-what-you-can-do-about-themNeck pain is unfortunately common, especially if you’re recovering from an injury or advancing in age. But pain stemming from cervical disc disease can be especially debilitating, especially when the resulting pain and loss of mobility starts to affect your quality of life. 

Fortunately, there are new treatments available that offer better recovery, comfort and lasting results to help you get back on track with life. Here, we cover the basics of degenerative disc disease, and why a Mobi-C cervical disc replacement may be an ideal treatment option.

How Degenerative Disc Disease Starts

The cervical spine is constructed of vertebrae and the discs between that provide cushioning during movement or when the neck has to bear weight. 

In a healthy neck, discs and bones move harmoniously in a way that allows it to bend from side to side and front to back, as well as turn left to right. 

However, when the neck has been overused or injured or simply seen too much daily wear and tear, tears or cracks can occur in the tough outer shell surrounding the softer core of a disc. This causes the disc to lose its water content and a protein called proteoglycan that allows the cervical spine to better withstand compression. 

This degeneration has two main effects:

  • The disc grows thinner, providing less padding for the spine to absorb the shock, and thus results in pain due to general movement and activity. 
  • As the disc’s outer shell becomes increasingly unable to contain its inner core, discs can herniate, bulge or “slip,” pinching the nerves of the spinal cord.

Symptoms of Disc Disease 

The most common symptoms are neck pain and stiffness, as the neck becomes less flexible and especially at the end of the day. 

However, when there is compression on the nerves of the spinal cord, you can also develop loss of feeling, weakness, pain, or tingling radiating down into the shoulders, arms and hands.

Symptoms may resemble carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff problems or gout.

Though cervical disc disease generally progresses slowly, a herniated disc can develop rapidly after an injury or trauma. 

Spinal Fusions Aren’t Your Only Treatment Option

Fusions, one of the traditional treatments for a damaged cervical disc, involve:

  • Removing the problematic disc.
  • Installing a plastic implant to restore disc height and remove pressure on pinched nerves.
  • Holding the implant in place with a metal plate and screws, thus fusing and preventing movement in that segment of spine. 

Unfortunately, fusions present two major potential issues:

  • Loss of motion.
  • Increased stress on the spine around the fusion, which may require more surgery.

In contrast, Mobi-C artificial discs directly replace diseased discs. The artificial disc maintains bone spacing and removes pressure, all without requiring a spinal fusion for stability.

Mobi-C offers several advantages over fusions:

  • Because Mobi-C can slide and rotate inside the disc space, it more closely mimics the spine’s natural movements. 
  • This flexibility reduces the pressure between the implant and surrounding vertebrae.
  • Fixing Mobi-C in place doesn’t require cutting into other bones in the spine. It also minimizes the need for bone removal. 

Considering Mobi-C?

Mobi-C is intended for adult patients with pain and/or neurological symptoms at the C3-C7 levels. Patients should only consider Mobi-C after having failed non-surgical care such as physical therapy or medications for at least six weeks, or experienced worsening symptoms.

Always consult a doctor to receive a diagnosis and to determine the best treatment for you. If spine surgery is recommended in your case, make sure to take the right steps to prepare.

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Topics: Surgery, Spine, Neck