A newer surgical option for the treatment of painful lumbar discs in the US is artificial disc replacement. The first disc implant was approved for use in the general patient population in October 2004, and a second technology was approved in August 2006. With two technologies now available, artificial disc replacement is arguably becoming more popular and discussed more frequently as a treatment option.
With artificial disc replacement, pain relief is brought about by removal of the painful disc and motion is maintained with the use of a prosthetic implant made of metal (with or without a plastic bearing surface). This is more similar in theory to the artificial hip, knee, and shoulder joints that orthopedic surgeons have been using for more that 35 years to maintain motion and relieve the pain of arthritic extremity joints. However, there is a significant difference in that only one of the three joints that are present at each vertebral level is being replaced, whereas a hip or knee joint the total joint is replaced.
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