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Cervical Herniated Discs
“I noticed that I had neck pain when I had my shoulder injury,” says Nick, a recreational snowboarder, “and I went in to see my physical therapist. She felt like maybe I had a vertebra that was out of place, and she adjusted it three times a week, and it was tolerable. I’d say maybe two weeks after I ended my physical therapy sessions, it just reached a peak that was intolerable. I went to lie down one night, and it sent shocking pain through my arm, and I went to see my surgeon the next day, and he said that he thought that it was a neck issue, and I saw Dr. Larson the day after that.”
“I first met Nick after he had an injury, presumably to his shoulder,” says neurosurgeon Jeffrey J. Larson, M.D. “He had undergone a long course of physical therapy, and he had even had surgery for his left shoulder. But he didn’t get better, so he had an MRI done on his neck, and it showed a disc herniation.”
Gesturing toward his left shoulder and arm, Nick says, “I kind of lost use of this area. I had headaches all the time, and I really honestly couldn’t do anything. I mean, I could still drive my car and walk around, but I could not do any kind of exercise.”
Dr. Larson described the treatment options for disc herniation: physical therapy, injection of steroid medication to try to tone down some of the inflammation, and surgery. “In Nick’s case,” says Dr. Larson, “he had already had several months of physical therapy. He still had weakness; he still had radiculopathy from the compression of the nerve roots from the disc herniation at C6–C7. So we discussed surgery.” Surgical choices included a traditional operation—removing the disc and replacing it with a fusion device—and another technique. The alternative technique would be removal of the disc herniation and placement of a PRESTIGE® Cervical Disc.
Dr. Larson explained to Nick that the fusion option would work, but, Nick remembers, he also learned that “in the long run, I would have issues, [and] my recovery time would be an unknown factor.” Moreover, Nick and Dr. Larson discussed Nick’s snowboarding and other athletic activities, which would have to be suspended for at least one season.
In the US clinical study, PRESTIGE® Disc patients showed statistical superiority in neurological success compared to patients receiving fusion. Both groups of patients showed similar results in neck pain associated with normal activities of daily living.
On the other hand, Dr. Larson said, for the disc replacement option, “The MRI showed all the right properties. The clinical exam fit, and I thought he was a perfect candidate for a PRESTIGE® [Cervical] Disc surgery. The PRESTIGE® Disc offers effective treatment of the disc herniation. It allows you to treat the radiculopathy, the spinal compression, and then put in a device that moves normally with the neck, so it preserves the motion of the neck.” After discussion, Nick opted for the disc replacement surgery. Risks of the PRESTIGE® Cervical Disc include, but are not limited to: development of new radiculopathy, myleopathy, or pain, loss of neurological function, decreased strength in the extremities and decreased reflexes.
“I had my surgery on Christmas Eve last year, and was back on the mountain February 20 on my snowboard. One year later, I feel amazing, I really do: I feel blessed. I ran a half marathon this summer. I learned to ski this winter, and I’ve really had zero restrictions. There’s hardware in my neck, but for the most part, I live my life normal, and I don’t... you know, I don’t really think twice when I turn and drop in on my snowboard, and I just go for it.”
Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.