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Spinal Disc Implants Provide Rapid Spine Surgery Recovery.

Back pain: Dr. Kenneth Light says “Artificial disc replacement is the single greatest advancement in spine surgery in the past 50 years. The implants are an attempt to fix complicated back problems without resorting to spinal fusion.”

For most people, back pain is only a temporary problem that can be alleviated with conservative (non-surgical) treatment such as rest, medication and physical therapy. Patients suffering from chronic back pain that does not improve with conservative (non-surgical) treatment may wish to consider a new approach, according to San Francisco spine surgeon Dr. Kenneth Light: “Total disc replacement using a device called the “ProDisc” implant may be appropriate for many patients to fix complicated back problems without resorting to a spinal fusion.”

With the introduction of total disc replacement (TDR) surgery, surgeons can offer their patients an alternative to spinal fusion surgery for the treatment of degenerative disc disease in the lumbar spine, or the treatment of symptomatic cervical disc disease in the cervical spine. The TDR procedure is intended to relieve pain and preserve motion in the spine.

During TDR surgery the pain-generating disc is removed, the disc height is restored and an implant that allows the potential for motion is inserted into the disc space. Dr. Light says that back pain from injury or disease can be relieved with the benefit of rapid recovery time for most patients, as compared to undergoing a spinal fusion. “Most patients experience little downtime after undergoing the procedure and they can often return to most regular activities in a matter of days.”

In the past, the only course of treatment for many patients has been spinal fusion, done to stabilize the spine and to prevent further damage to the injured area. However, he says spinal fusion has several disadvantages including the loss of range of movement in the treated areas and, in many cases recurring pain and further damage to the spine.

With the introduction of total disc replacement surgery, Dr. Light says that surgeons can offer their patients an alternative to spinal fusion for the treatment of injuries or degenerative disc disease. And yet he says, to the patient’s detriment many insurance companies have been reluctant to pay for disc implants even though they have been used efficiently outside of the country for years, and are being used in the U.S. by a small number of spine surgeons. Some of theses surgeons, including Dr. Light have served as advocates for their patients to gain partial or full reimbursement from their insurance companies for their procedures..

“I believe that artificial disc replacement will eventually replace up to 80% of all spinal fusion surgeries,” says Dr. Light. For information call 415.673.4500 or visit Dr. Light’s website:

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