What Is Cervical Disc Replacement?

Cervical disc replacement is a procedure to remove and replace a severely herniated or diseased disc in the neck. The process relieves the pressure the disc creates on the surrounding nerves. The result is reduced pain and stiffness, and less discomfort in the neck, shoulder, and arm. The success of the surgery hinges on a consistent rehabilitation (rehab) program that will help patients quickly return to work and everyday life. Rehab also restores full range of motion and strengthens the neck. Following the proper steps, patients have a better outlook.

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Out with the old

Almost all cervical disc replacements occur on the discs between the C4 and C7 vertebrae. The surgeon will access the disc from the front of the neck, carefully moving the muscles and tissue covering the disc. The herniated disc is then removed, leaving any healthy parts intact. From there, the surgeon installs a special artificial spacer to take the place of the disc after restoring space in the spine. The doctor will restore any tissue or muscle and close the incisions. In most cases, the patient can leave the same or the following day. Physical therapy after the procedure involves 2-6 weeks of strengthening and improving the range of motion.

Take it easy

Patients will first focus on healing surgical wounds and reducing inflammation. Pain can be managed with ice and pain medications. Light walking, stationary bike, and light stretching of the upper body will be encouraged. The medical team will also provide occupational therapy for lifting, sleeping, and showering. After 2 weeks, the surgeon will remove any soft neck brace and sutures. The rehab program then intensifies under the guidance of a therapist.

Ramping up rehab

Rehab will involve exercise to strengthen the neck and surrounding muscles while improving flexibility. The session will happen 2-3 times per week or as often as the therapist recommends. To support the neck, the patient will perform exercises like rows, lateral pulldowns, extensions, arm retractions, and many others. These exercises will be coupled with stretches of the neck muscles in different directions, like the side neck stretch and chin tuck. Exercises will increase in intensity, or heavier weights may be used. As time progresses, the patient will be encouraged to do some of these exercises at home.

Back to work

The physical therapist and doctor will gauge the progress over time. The patient should feel less pain and discomfort while achieving more flexibility in the neck. At 3 weeks, driving, desk work, and some social activities will be allowed as long as the patient is not taking strong pain medications. More strenuous tasks will need a longer recovery time. Patients are also encouraged to go swimming, jogging, and biking to improve overall health. Most patients will be pain-free and fully recovered after 6-8 weeks based on factors like health, weight, and type of surgery performed.

Better rehab, better results

Cervical disc replacement will finally remove the cause of pain in the neck and shoulders. The medical team will encourage rest, exercise, and pain management during rehab. A healthy diet, hydration, sleep, and stress reduction also play a part in recovery. The procedure has both immediate and long-term benefits. Take rehab seriously, then enjoy a pain-free life.

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“Everyone was concerned with my comfort.”

“Anesthesia staff was outstanding!”

“The staff was very polite, they were excellent. They explained exactly what was going on.”
“Dr. Best…is the best!”
“The nurses were very nice and caring!”
“Experience was amazing. The nurses my son needed at this time couldn’t have been chosen any more perfect. They were supportive and understanding, patient and just great human beings.THANK YOU KINDLY ”

“The staff was great, especially Mary and Marcia. Marcia was extremely helpful post-op and made sure I was comfortable and well-cared for.”

“The nurses were very nice and caring!”

“Marcia and staff were excellent and genuinely cared for my well being. Wish I could have taken them home.”

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“Rebecca was amazing. I have always had trouble in the past with getting an IV started. I told Rebecca I was concerned about it. She got it on the 1st try – no digging in my arm and NO bruising the next day.”
“Everyone was friendly and concerned about my comfort. They frequently asked how I was doing, or if I needed something.”

“All staff were wonderful.”

“Entire staff was knowledgeable and courteous. They genuinely cared for my well being and made sure my wife and I were taken care of.”

“Everyone was concerned with my comfort.”

“All staff were wonderful.”

“Efficiency of the staff. Courteous, friendly and caring attitude. Excellent office staff. Pleasant surroundings.”
“Dr. Tupper was amazing! He spent time explaining exactly what he was doing, what I would experience and made sure I was comfortable.”

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“Everyone was friendly and concerned about my comfort. They frequently asked how I was doing, or if I needed something.”
“Incredibly professional, friendly and confidence of knowing their roles as healthcare employees. Excellent!”

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“I liked that it was so clean. Every staff member was pleasant and easy to talk with.”

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“No severe pain – Just a little discomfort – I was asked several times during procedure if I was OK – they showed genuine concern for my well being.”
“NO wait time, RN Rebecca answered all questions prior to my visit by phone and again answered all questions and concerns while prepping me.”
“The STAFF from the moment you walk in were the nicest people I’ve encountered at a medical facility.”

“Marcia and staff were excellent and genuinely cared for my well being. Wish I could have taken them home.”

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