Cervical Disk Replacement: Saving Necks and Relieving Pain


CHICAGO, Ill. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Suffering from a stiff neck? How about sore shoulders? It may be caused by more than just the stress of the day. About 25 percent of people under the age of 40, and 60 percent of people over the age of 40, have some degree of degenerative disk disease. For most people, physical therapy will do the trick – for some, a disk fusion was all doctors had to offer. But now, a disk replacement is easing their pain while keeping their mobility intact. Cervical Disk Replacement

Clayton Slater is ready to go! He took up disc golf to give him and his son something to do, but pain stopped him from going out on the course.

“I had pain in the shoulders that radiated down my tricep, into my arm and my hand,” Slater tells Ivanhoe.

The pain was actually a result of a neck injury that happened when he fell off a treadmill.

Patients with problems in their cervical disks — the seven disks that run from the base of the skull to the top of the shoulders — have few options. Most are treated with anti-inflammatories and physical therapy, then offered disk fusion.

Orthopedic surgeon at Midwest at Rush, Kern Singh, MD, says, “The problem is that it creates a domino effect, so, someone gets their neck fused for one or two levels, that then puts pressure, potentially, on the adjacent level.”

(Read Full Interview)

Now, disk replacement is giving patients a more mobile option.

“This is the actual disk replacement device that we, or myself, I implant in patients. And you can see, it’s less than the size of your fingertip,” Dr. Singh demonstrates.

It’s made out of titanium and plastic.

Dr. Singh adds, “Bone grows into the titanium and the plastic, basically, acts like a shock absorber and the disk allows the spine to physically move forward, and then back, side to side, and then rotate.”

The surgery takes only 30 minutes. Slater went home the same day and could move his neck immediately. Five months later, he has full range of motion.

Cervical disk replacements are approved by the FDA. Dr. Singh says data shows that artificial cervical disks should not need to be replaced for at least 20 years.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:       MB #5264

BACKGROUND: Degenerative disc disease is a condition that primarily affects the intervertebral discs, which are the soft, gel-like cushions between the bones of the spine. Despite its name, degenerative disc disease is not actually a disease; rather, it is a natural age-related process that occurs as the discs between the spinal vertebrae deteriorate and lose some of their normal function over time. This condition is a common cause of back pain and discomfort, especially in older adults. The average person with degenerative disk disease is in a healthy condition and in their 30s to 40s. Once a disk is injured, it is unable to repair itself. Unlike other tissues in the body, the disk holds a low blood supply. Most people under the age of 60 have some kind of degenerative disk disease.

(Sources: https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/d/degenerative-disc-disease.html


SYMPTOMS & TREATMENT: There are many factors that can cause disks to degenerate, but a major contributing factor is age. When people are born, the disc is 80 percent water, but as years go by disks dry and do not absorb shocks as easily. Daily activities and sports can also cause tears in the outer layers of disks. Injuries cause swelling, soreness, and instability which hold negative effects as well. Common symptoms of degenerative disk disease include pain that is worse when sitting down, pain when bending, feeling better while walking or moving, feeling better while lying down, periods of extreme pain that come and go irregularly, numbness and tingling in the extremities, and weakness in leg and foot muscles. The disease is treated through artificial disc replacement, surgical intervention, and nonoperative treatments such as acupuncture, back braces, and other pain management treatments.

(Source: https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/d/degenerative-disc-disease.html)

NEW TECHNOLOGY: Cedars-Sinai investigators have begun successfully using stem cell technologies to stop spinal disc generation in laboratory animals. It is believed that these projects can alleviate back pains in people with degenerative disk disease, which happens when the disks between the vertebrae of the spinal column deteriorate. Dmitriy Sheyn, Ph.D., who heads a laboratory focusing on orthopedic stem cell research at the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute, says,” There is an urgent need for alternative treatment such as stem cell therapy, which is focused on correcting the underlying basis of the disease.”

(Source: https://www.cedars-sinai.org/discoveries/new-spin-on-spinal-discs.html#:~:text=Cedars%2DSinai%20investigators%20have%20successfully,of%20the%20spinal%20column%20deteriorate.)


Ann Picther


If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com

Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Dr. Kern Singh, Orthopedic Surgeon

Read the entire Q&A