Here’s how to find out if you’re a candidate for cervical disc replacement

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Cervical disc replacements are a relatively recent innovation in spine surgery.

By George J. Kellis, M.D.; Precision Orthopaedic Specialties

Cervical disc herniation occurs when the gel-like center of a spinal disc ruptures through a weak area in the tough outer disc wall, similar to the filling being squeezed from a jelly doughnut.

This can happen after significant trauma to the neck, as in an auto accident, or after something as simple as a sneeze. Symptoms can be severe, forcing us to avoid activities we love. If pain and loss of sensation persist, or if weakness in the arms or legs develops, timely referral to a spinal surgeon is warranted.

Your physician will complete a full exam and often order an MRI of the cervical spine to determine if a disc herniation is found to be compressing the nerves of your neck. Treatment usually begins with medications like anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants and often includes physical therapy or chiropractic care.

For those with continuing pain, spinal injections can help. However, if the patient’s symptoms do not improve or they worsen, surgery may be indicated. There have been many advancements in spinal surgery and these new options should be considered by those contemplating a spinal procedure.

Cervical disc replacements are a relatively recent innovation in spine surgery. These small implants are made of titanium and high-density plastic and can be an alternative to spine fusion for patients with disc herniation.

Completed through incisions less than an inch long, the mobile implants fill the void, which remains following the removal of the injured disc, and allow motion to continue. By allowing more normal neck motion to occur, cervical disc replacement may decrease stiffness and the degeneration of healthy discs.

Patients suffering from cervical disc issues should consider this innovative option. Currently, these FDA approved cervical implants cannot be used if advanced arthritis has already developed in the neck. As well, they can be used at no more than two cervical levels. For healthy patients without these restrictions, proper implantation of cervical disc replacements can provide great pain relief, improved motion and a return to normal daily activity.

Precision Orthopaedic Specialties has four locations—in Chardon at 150 7th Avenue, Suite 200 (440-285-4999); in Auburn at 11800 E. Washington St. in Chagrin Falls (440-543-2097); in Middlefield at 15389 West High Street (440-632-0279); and now in Beachwood at the Lake Health Beachwood Medical Center, 25501 Chagrin Blvd, Suite 200. To schedule an appointment, call any of the offices or visit to schedule your appointment online.