If you have a replacement operation to address a health issue, you hope that one surgery will do the trick for the rest of your life. Surgical hardware is getting more durable and lasting longer as modern medicine advances, but maintaining the health of your hardware doesn’t happen by accident. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at the expected lifespan of an artificial spinal disc, and we share some tips on how you can extend its functional ability.
As we’ve talked about on the blog in the past, when spinal discs break down, they can generally be surgically treated in one of two ways. There is the spinal fusion operation, which limits movement at the spinal segment by fusing adjacent vertebrae together, and then there’s the artificial disc replacement operation, which as the name suggests, involves removing the damaged disc and replacing it with an artificial option that behaves similar to a healthy disc. Because artificial disc replacement perseveres more range of motion and flexibility in the area, it’s often the preferred surgical intervention for damaged spinal discs.
But can you expect one artificial disc to last for the rest of your life, or should you expect to undergo a revision operation in the future? Because the artificial disc is so new, medical experts don’t have a definitive answer to that question, but early indications are that they should last for the rest of your life.
Artificial discs were first approved in the US in the early 2000s, so they haven’t even been around for 20 years yet. However, some studies have examined the artificial disc’s durability at five- and 10-year intervals, and reports suggest that they are still functioning at near optimal levels at these intervals. Other researchers have examined the discs of patients who previously had the artificial disc replacement operation and later passed away. Data from these collections show the discs to be completely intact.
We can’t give you a perfect answer to that question, but many disc manufacturers say they test their products to be able to handle 40-50 years of normal wear and tear, and some manufacturers are guaranteeing the life of their implant for 40 years. So with these numbers in mind, it is very likely that your artificial disc replacement operation will be the only operation you need at that disc level for the rest of your life.
If you’re interested in prolonging the lifespan of your artificial disc, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Maintain a Healthy Weight – Being overweight channels more stress through your spine, which could eventually break down your artificial disc faster.
Regular Exercise – Exercise will help strengthen supportive muscles and structures to help your body better handle and distribute stress.
Posture Care – Strive for ideal posture and perform regular checks throughout the day to avoid from overloading one area of your spine.
Supportive Extras – Wearing supportive shoes and sleeping in a bed that appropriately supports your spine will help keep your whole spine healthy.
Perform Your PT – Make sure you do your physical therapy exercises after surgery to help strengthen the area that has been weakened as a result of the surgery.
Avoid Smoking – Smoking can break down spinal discs, meaning your artificial disc will now have to support more stress.
For more information about artificial disc replacement surgery or treating your back pain, reach out to Dr. Chang’s office today.