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For 65 million Americans, lower back pain is a chronic condition, affecting everything from their mood to simple activities such as walking, bending, lifting and even sitting.
Pain can radiate from the back or neck and often is associated with pain or weakness in the hands and arms, as well as the buttocks and legs. While physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications and steroid treatments may help alleviate the pain, longtime sufferers disabled by back pain may benefit from surgery.
Degenerative disc disease
Degenerative disc disease is caused when the spine loses its shock-absorbing characteristics in the flexible discs between the spinal vertebrae. It also can result from trauma-related or athletic injuries. When compression of the discs pinches spinal nerve roots, severe pain may call for spinal fusion surgery.
Spinal fusion surgery involves removing the damaged disc and then permanently fusing together the vertebrae above and below the space. To stop the spine from collapsing after surgeons remove a damaged disc, special titanium ‘cages’ are used as a splint to help maintain the disc space height and stabilize the spine while new bone grows inside and outside the cage. The result is new, fused bone connected to the surrounding vertebrae.
The artificial disc is a real breakthrough for patients who have low back pain due to disc degeneration in one of the two lowest levels of the spine. Unlike spinal fusion surgery, which permanently limits motion, the artificial disc allows the spine to move and doesn't put stress on other discs.
The artificial disc is a three-piece device consisting of a sliding center sandwiched between two metal-cupped endplates that are fixed to the bone. It is made of some of the same materials used in other joint replacement implants.
Candidates for artificial discs
Candidates for an artificial disc replacement can have only specific types of disc deterioration in the lowest levels of the spine and cannot have poor bone quality or instability, a significant deformity or infections, or tumors or cancer in the spinal area. People older than age 60 are not considered good candidates because of probable bone deterioration due to aging.
For information, please call our Health Access Line at 314-ANTHONY (268-4669) or 800-554-9550 or visit find a physician online.
Working as trusted partners, the physicians and employees of St. Anthony's Health System will deliver care distinguished by its demonstrated quality and personalized service. We will be visibly engaged in improving the health and well being of the communities we serve in South County and beyond. We will stand together, proud to set the standard for independent community health systems.