Disc Replacement Surgery Specialist

James M. Leipzig, MD, FACS

Spinal Surgeons located in Roanoke, VA

For some people with back or neck pain, disc replacement surgery is an alternative to spinal fusion that provides relief while preserving normal motion. Fellowship-trained spine surgeon James Leipzig, MD, FACS, performs disc replacement surgery at The Spine Center in Roanoke, Virginia. To find out if disc replacement surgery is right for you, call the office or request an appointment online today.

Disc Replacement Surgery Q & A

What is disc replacement surgery?

Disc replacement, also known as disc arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure that replaces a worn or damaged disc with an artificial one.

Your spine is a column of bones, called vertebrae, stacked on top of one another. Intervertebral discs are cushions of shock-absorbing cartilage that contain a gel-like substance. When there’s not enough space between your vertebrae, a disc can press on your spinal cord or nerve roots, causing pain, numbness, and weakness.

Before disc replacement surgery, spinal fusion was the only available treatment for this problem. Fusion involves permanently bonding two or more vertebrae together to prevent movement between them. Disc replacement provides the same pain relief as fusion surgery without restricting your spinal mobility.

When would I need disc replacement surgery?

Disc replacement surgery is a treatment for disc disorders in your cervical and lumbar spine, including degenerative disc disease and spondylosis. Disc degeneration, which involves wear-and-tear damage that occurs over time, is extremely common. Most people have some degree of disc degeneration by age 60.

Signs and symptoms that may indicate a bulging, herniated, or damaged disc include:

  • Neck pain or low back pain
  • Numbness in the arms or legs
  • Weakness in the arms or legs
  • Pain that radiates into the arms or legs

The Spine Center always explores conservative treatments, such as physical therapy, before considering any type of surgery. They may order imaging tests, such as discography or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to determine if you’re a good candidate for artificial disc replacement.

What happens during disc replacement surgery?

The Spine Center takes as much time as needed to thoroughly explain your procedure and answer any questions you may have. 

Generally, disc replacement surgery takes about 2-3 hours and usually involves general anesthesia. Your surgeon makes an incision near the painful disc, removes it, and replaces it with an artificial disc. Then, he closes the incision with stitches and dresses the wound.

What is recovery like after disc replacement surgery?

Most people spend a day or two in the hospital after disc replacement surgery. The Spine Center provides you with instructions on how to facilitate a successful recovery at home and gradually return to normal activities. 

Physical therapy is an essential part of recovery and rehabilitation after spine surgery.

To learn more about disc replacement surgery, call The Spine Center or request an appointment online today.