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Disc replacemet vs. fusion.

BiagioBBiagio Posts: 14
edited 12/12/2014 - 6:20 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I was wondering if anyone has had or heard anything about disc replacement? I heard that once you've had fusion (I recently had an ACDF C5-C6) that chances are adjacent disc will begin to wear over time. Any thoughts?


  • ASD ( adjacent segment dissecation) can occur with fusion or with adr.....if the discs are not in good condition, it can occur , no matter what you have done surgery wise. ADR ( artificial disc replacement ) has been marketed as a "cure/prevent" asd but there are just as many problems with discs deteriorating below or above the adr as there are with those who have undergone fusion surgery.
    Discs can deteriorate, as we all know, whether or not we have spine conditions or not.
  • Thanks Sandi. I'm afraid that I'm going to be prone to herniating/deteriorating discs being only 44 and already having had an ACDF surgery. I think it's hereditary as my dad has had 2 Posterior Cervical Decompression surgeries.
  • I had acdf of c6 - c7 in March and I was also worried about the discs wearing away above and below because they are bad and I talked to my surgeon about the replacement instead of fusion. He told me that the discs aren't all they are stacked up to be and they don't work the way they are supposed to. He told me he would not do replacement on me and if I wanted that done that I would need to find a different doctor. He assured me that fusion was the correct way to go. It wasn't because he didn't have the ability to do it, he has done the replacement surgeries and wasn't satisfied with the outcomes. He told me not to worry about the other discs wearing away and if it was going to happen it was going to happen either way. He said the chances are slim that it will happen though. I am 36, was very active until one day I just woke up with this terrible pain that wouldn't go away. I am starting to get more and more active now just taking things slow.
  • I tend to think that if we are prone to herniations or disc problems, it is going to occur, no matter what options we choose......disc problems can occur with adr just as likely as they can with fusion.
    I believe that fusion stabilizes areas that are already weakened, and I've seen far too many outcomes of adr that have not been the promised "cure" or prevention that they were marketed as......too many problems once they are implanted, or new problems.
    I looked into them heavily when faced with my own surgeries, and researched heavily . So far out of all the discs that have been brought into market or trials, there have been outcomes that were different than the cures for motion , or preserving/avoiding asd, and have caused further problems once they have implanted enough to actually see the real life outcomes.
    It's a tough decision to make, no doubt about it........
  • Thanks for the replies. You are right, if it's going to happen than there's nothing I can do about it. The only way is to think and stay positive, and just get back in shape like before. No sense worrying about it...
  • You are always going to be worried about messing it up again. I agree though get yourself back in shape (which is harder than what you think) and always try and stay positive. Those two are the best things you can do for yourself. Don't let this get you down, it was just a minor setback.
  • worrying about what might occur, or we can do what we can to prevent as much further injury, and not let the what if's consume us.
    As long as we are reasonable in living our lives, and not doing things that are too risky, then that's about all we can do, other than take care of ourselves as best we can.
  • BiagioBBiagio Posts: 14
    edited 06/20/2014 - 1:59 AM
    Well I'm in my third week of PT and boy is it ever frustrating and harder than I thought. It's like I have no control of my left arm. I'm willing it to flex (bicep) and raise it in different angles (shoulder) but it's difficult. It's going to be a lot longer and harder than I thought mostly because I was in the best shape of my life before this, training 5 times a week and feeling stronger than ever. It's amazing how the nerve controls everything and can destroy everything. I look like those photos that take a picture of you with a line in the middle - on the left is the before working out and on the right is after.
  • Yes, it is amazing how the nerves control so much of our bodies abilities to perform what seemingly are the most simple tasks.. I know physical therapy is tough, and it hurts, especially in the early days but hang in there and keep working at it.....you will see the benefits of it later.
  • Thanks for the encouraging words Sandi. I will hang in there, some days are better than others.
  • I understand.......I dreaded physical therapy and left more often in tears than not.....but that's the hard part is the beginning, and hopefully by the end, you will see how far you have come.
    That's what I kept telling myself.
    One step at a time my friend......one day at a time.
  • Sandi is right. You've got to persevere. We mostly live in a world that tells us everything we need is outside ourselves. It seems illness and injury will wake you up to the fact that what really matters is inside you! Get better soon!
  • It's been exactly 12 weeks since my surgery and things are progressing fine. Doing PT with a therapist 3x week, and doing the exercices on my own every day. Came back from a 2 week vacation where I did a lot of the PT in the water and that seemed to help a lot. Strenght is still very low but my mobility in the left arm/shoulder/bicep seem to have improved quite a bit. My tingling appears to have increased but I'm assuming it's because the nerve is repairing itself. Seeing my surgeon end of the month and hopefully he can tell me I can start running again...I miss it.
  • Has anyone heard or researched the use of Human Growth Hormones for nerve regeneration?
  • the fear that adjacent discs to a fusion will wear faster is only a theory, but has never been proven, I believe.
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