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Pain Relieving Disc Replacement


Disc replacement removes a damaged spinal disc and replaces it with an artificial disc. This type of back surgery is an alternative to spinal fusion, which permanently joins two vertebrae together.

At Dignity Health, our orthopedic experts include doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and pain management specialists who provide a continuity of care on your path to recovery. If you need disc replacement in the Bay Area, call 888.653.1839 or Find a Doctor online who will focus on you as an individual and provide personalized treatment based on your specific needs.

When Do Doctors Recommend Disc Replacement?

Disc replacement is used to treat back pain when:

  • Pain is caused by only one or two spinal discs 
  • Pain is not related to nerve compression or facet joint problems
  • You are not excessively overweight
  • You do not have a spinal deformity such as scoliosis
  • You have not had spine surgery in the past
  • Your spine is no longer growing (skeletally mature)

What to Expect During Disc Replacement Surgery in the Bay Area

Your disc replacement will be performed in a Dignity Health Bay Area hospital under general anesthesia. During the procedure, your doctor removes the damaged disc and replaces it with an artificial disc. The new disc is made of metal or a combination of metal and plastic.

You may have different surgical options depending on the location of damaged disc, such as the lower back (lumbar region) or the neck (cervical region). Dignity Health surgeons developed have the "Pro-Disc" artificial disc replacement procedure, a nationally recognized technique that may be an option for some patients.

Possible complications of disc replacement surgery include: 

  • Breakage or loosening of the new disc
  • Dislocation of the new disc 
  • Narrowing of the spine (spinal stenosis
  • Nerve or blood vessel damage
  • Ongoing disability and pain
  • Spinal stiffness
  • General risks of any surgery, including reactions to blood clots, anesthesia, bleeding, and infections

Recovery Time After Artificial Disc Replacement

You will spend two to four days in a Dignity Health Bay Area hospital after disc replacement. You will need to avoid movements that jar or hyperextend your spine for many weeks. Expect full recovery to take several weeks to several months. Physical therapy can help improve your spine’s flexibility as you recover.

While disc replacement can improve back pain for many people, it’s important to have realistic expectations. Some disability can remain after the procedure. Talk to you doctor about your goals for surgery and recovery.

Dignity Health surgeons treat back pain with disc replacement in the Bay Area, including San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.