Spinal Disc Replacement Relieves Pain
San Francisco man has a new type of artificial disc replacement to relieve back pain from injuries suffered in an auto accident.
Tax accountant Frank Natale has undergone a "pro-Disc-L" disc replacement procedure, performed by spine surgeon Dr. Kenneth Light to repair lower back damage and alleviate pain from injuries suffered when he was rear-ended by a pickup truck at a red light. According to 5 different doctors, his alternative was a spinal fusion, which would have left him incapacitated for 6 months. He did have one surgical procedure to attempt to fix some of his injuries; a discectomy to remove the damaged portions of his discs but the pain came back and actually got much worse.
Frank says the pain is largely gone and he can now walk more normally. He will next have the damaged discs in his neck replaced.
Dr. Light says that fusions are appropriate in many cases, especially where no other treatment will help but that there are now alternatives that can help a person regain full movement and mobility, rather than having their vertebrae "frozen", which can lead to significant side effects including pain and increased stress to adjacent vertebrae. In some cases the fusion will heal in the wrong position, causing a tilting of the spine.
Until recently, the only course of treatment for people with certain back injuries has been a spinal fusion procedure, which is done to stabilize the spine and to prevent further damage to the injured area. However, spinal fusion has several disadvantages including a variable loss of range of movement in the treated areas, recurring pain and further damage to the spine.
"Total disc replacement using a device called the “ProDisc-L or C Implant, may be a better approach” says Dr. Light. “Artificial disc replacement is an attempt to fix complicated back and neck injuries.”
The implant has been designed to maintain the physiological range of motion in the spine. Most patients experience little downtime after the procedure and can often return to most regular activities in a matter of days, says Dr. Light.