cervical disc replacement by Colin Booth

Disc Herniation in Young Adults

Dr. Colin Booth, MD , a spine medicine physician at Tennessee Orthopaedic Clinics, explains what can be done for young adults with disc herniation.

booth_558x400-209x300 Disc Herniation in Young Adults Patient Education Spine  knoxville orthopedic clinicWhat can be done for disc herniation in young adults?

For patients with minimal degenerative changes, there’s still a very healthy looking disc but they have a disc herniation pushing on the nerve, we can do a disc replacement, which is seen here. What this does is it mimics the natural movement of the disc that we are taking out to take the pressure off the nerves. What that helps with is decreasing chances of the discs above and below going bad or having revision surgery.

Who is the best candidate for this procedure?

Typically, this is more for younger patients because they have less degenerative changes. Most of the patients that I put these in are usually late twenties going into their early forties.

What causes disc herniation in young adults?

It could be an injury, motor vehicle accident, work injury. That could just cause enough trauma to where the disc herniates and pushes on the nerve. Other than that, they don’t have any other real neck or degenerative issues, and so we just try to treat the exact problem.

How does this work?

The actual disc replacement itself is basically two metal plates that kind of bite into the bone on either side, and then there is a plastic disc which can move forward, backwards and side-to-side to mimic the full 360-degree or three-axis range of motion of the disc in the neck.

Why do you go through the front of the neck?

Going through the front of the neck seems kind of scary, but typically it’s actually way less painful than going through the back of the neck or even, for lower back surgery, going through the back. We’re not cutting any muscle. We’re using natural muscle planes, just moving things aside gently. Typically, patients tolerate that much better postoperative than they do when we go through the actual posterior aspect of the spine.

Is it a long recovery?

Going through the front of the neck seems kind of scary, but typically it’s actually way less painful than going through the back of the neck or even, for lower back surgery, going through the back. We’re not cutting any muscle. We’re using natural muscle planes, just moving things aside gently. Typically, patients tolerate that much better postoperative than they do when we go through the actual posterior aspect of the spine.

Herniated Disc Replacement in Young Adults