Degenerative disorders of the spine are among the most frequent causes of neck pain and may require surgical treatment such as cervical disc replacement. In Mission Viejo, CA, board-certified neurosurgeon Dr. Alexander Taghva specializes in minimally invasive surgical techniques and has extensive experience performing intricate cervical vertebrae surgery and cervical disc replacement.
What is Cervical Disc Replacement?
Dr. Alexander Taghva performs cervical disc replacement surgery at his state-of-the-art facility in Mission Viejo, CA. Also known as spinal arthroplasty, the procedure is performed to replace discs in the upper spine that are damaged and causing pain.
Degenerative spinal disease refers to a breakdown of various components in the cervical spine. A healthy neck can rotate the head from side-to-side at almost 180°, extend the head towards the upper back, move forward to touch the chin to the chest, and bend the ear towards each shoulder. Each movement relies on seven cervical bones (called vertebrae) in the spine, which are joined together with two facet joints and one intervertebral joint.
The joints and vertebrae in the bony spine allow the neck to move but must also protect the spinal cord, which transmits signals from the brain that control every function of the body. The facet joints consist of two kinds of bones that smoothly respond to one another and provide movement. The critical joint between the two cervical vertebrae is the spongy intervertebral disc, which acts as a soft glue. The disc acts as a shock absorber and cushion to the cervical vertebrae.
Healthy cervical discs are essential to spinal stability. The discs may flatten with time and use, causing the bones in the spine to move closer together. When this happens, the other joints are forced to take on extra loads. When stress is placed on the facet joints, the healthy cartilage between the bones begins to break down. As the cartilage degenerates, the bone becomes exposed, inflammation occurs, and this leads to degenerative conditions.
During cervical disc replacement in Orange County, Dr. Taghva removes the damaged disc that is causing pain and places an artificial disc between the vertebrae. Spinal arthroplasty relieves the added pressure on the spinal nerves or spinal cord that is caused by degenerative or herniated cervical disc disease.
The disc replacement procedure treats neck and arm pain and is an alternative to anterior cervical discectomy and fusion surgery, which requires a longer recovery and carries different risks. Dr. Taghva uses advanced technology during cervical disc replacement in Mission Viejo, CA, to reduce the recovery time and limit incisions.
Benefits of Cervical Disc Replacement
Cervical disc replacement surgery in Orange County offers patients an effective method for restoring spinal movement and reducing or eliminating chronic pain. This type of spine surgery:
- Properly aligns the cervical spine
- Improves flexibility
- Stops the acceleration of disc degeneration
- Offers quicker recovery
- Removes and replaces a painful herniated disc
- Alleviates the need for a lifetime of neck pain management with narcotics
- Avoids the disadvantages of spinal fusion like reduced flexibility and acceleration of disc degeneration
- Avoids the need for a more complex surgery like anterior cervical discectomy
- Removes nerve root pressure or pinched nerve pain from misaligned cervical vertebrae
- Relieves weakness, numbness and arm pain
- Restores spinal stability
Am I a Candidate for Cervical Disc Replacement?
Dr. Alexander Taghva determines each patient’s candidacy for cervical disc replacement in Mission Viejo, CA, during a private consultation. The surgeon will request one or more critical medical tests, which could include an MRI, a CT scan, or x-rays, before making a treatment recommendation.
Individuals who may benefit from cervical artificial disc replacement in Orange County, CA, with Dr. Taghva:
- have neck or back pain caused by cervical disc degeneration
- are healthy enough for surgical procedures
- do not have scoliosis or another type of spinal deformity
Cervical Disc Replacement Consultation in Orange County
It is essential to differentiate neck pain that is related to a spinal disorder from other ailments before deciding on the best treatment options. Dr. Alexander Taghva determines the cause of a patient’s pain during a cervical disc replacement consultation in Mission Viejo, CA
During the consultation, Dr. Taghva reviews the patient’s medical history, test results, and symptoms, and performs a physical examination. Once he has diagnosed the issue, Dr. Taghva provides customized medical advice and recommends spinal surgical options, spinal arthroplasty, physical therapy, or revision surgery based on the unique needs of each patient.
The Cervical Disc Replacement Procedure
Dr. Alexander Taghva performs the cervical disc replacement procedure in Orange County, CA, using general anesthesia. The procedure is performed with the patient lying face up. A small incision is created in the front of the neck to the side of the windpipe, which will provide access to the front of the cervical spine.
The muscles, esophagus, trachea, and windpipe are carefully retracted aside for access to the cervical area. Dr. Taghva uses an operating microscope to view the area and strategically removes the damaged disc with a long, thin instrument. He clears bone spurs from the surface of the adjoining vertebrae before securing the artificial cervical disc in place.
The artificial discs preserve mobility and full-motion, including side bending, rotation, flexion, and extension of the neck. The height and curvature of the repaired vertebrae offer excellent alignment for a properly aligned spine and pain-free movement. Dr. Alexander Taghva provides full details of the spinal arthroplasty surgical plan, including risks and benefits, during the consultation.
Recovering from a Cervical Disc Replacement
Dr. Taghva provides spinal arthroplasty post-surgical instructions during the consultation. Many cervical disc replacement patients in Orange County can stand and move around on the day of the surgery or the next day. The rehabilitation plan includes self-directed gentle stretching, walking, and movement therapy. Professional physical therapy is commonly recommended after the first follow-up appointment.
The details of each surgery are personalized to meet the unique to the needs of the patient. Dr. Taghva makes every effort to use minimally invasive surgical options during the removal and replacement of the cervical disc, which allows for a smoother recovery.
Significant relief from arm and neck pain is typically experienced shortly after the surgery, but the recovery timeframe also depends on the extent of the symptoms, the degree of inflammation, and the amount of nerve compression. Patients can expect to experience continuous improvements during the first weeks and months after the surgery.
Why Should I Choose Dr. Taghva?
Alexander Taghva, M.D., F.A.A.N.S., is a highly-skilled, board-certified neurosurgeon who specializes in the treatment of cervical disc disease, neck pain, lower back pain, brain tumors, and other conditions requiring spine or brain surgery. He is the only neurosurgeon in Orange County offering endoscopic spine surgery, a technique that minimizes incisions and trauma for patients. Dr. Taghva is a top choice among patients for his numerous qualifications:
- Graduated from John Hopkins University School of Medicine and completed his residency at the University of California
- Completed a prestigious fellowship at the Ohio State University in Neuromodulation and Functional Neurosurgery
- Specializes in the treatment of spinal stenosis, spinal disorders, herniated discs, and chronic pain
- Performs minimally invasive and endoscopic surgery, artificial disc replacement, spinal surgery revision, and other spinal surgery
- Specializes in brain surgery to treat brain tumors, trigeminal neuralgia, pituitary tumors, and Parkinson’s disease.
- Actively involved in medical research and the lead investigator for clinical trials on spinal cord stimulation
- A highly-respected neurosurgeon with many years of experience, including treating chronic pain via stimulation of the spinal cord and brain
FAQs about Cervical Disc Replacement
There are risks associated with every surgical procedure; however, the risks are greatly reduced when patients choose a highly-experienced neurosurgeon. Dr. Taghva will explain the possible risks during your consultation, which may include bleeding, an adverse reaction to the anesthesia, wearing out or breaking an artificial disc, and dislocation of the artificial cervical discs.
Spinal discs act as shock absorbers or cushions between the vertebrae in the spine that allow for flexibility and motion of the spinal column. Because disc degeneration disease can cause misalignment of the spine and chronic neck and back pain, Dr. Taghva offers artificial disc replacement in Orange County to remove a damaged disc, fill in the disc space between the vertebrae, and help patients find relief.
Age, injuries, arthritis, and other health conditions can lead to cervical disc and spine damage, including disc herniation and bone spur development. Herniated discs and bone spurs may cause narrowing of the spinal canal, which pinches the nerve roots and cause tingling and numbness in the extremities. If you are experiencing cervical disc or spinal damage, Dr. Taghva may recommend non-surgical treatment or surgical procedures like artificial cervical disc replacement.
Consistently exercising and eating a healthy diet before the surgery can encourage a fast, successful recovery. Stop non-essential medications and herbal remedies two weeks before the surgery that may increase the risk of bleeding, including Advil, Motrin, and aspirin, as well as prescriptions that may react with anesthesia and other medications. Dr. Taghva will provide you with a complete list of pre-surgical preparations.
Most patients stay in the hospital for one to two days and are out of bed and walking on the evening of the surgery or the following day.
There are some activity restrictions during the first month, however, most patients are released to resume normal activities within two to three weeks. Dr. Taghva will provide you with a complete list of post-surgical activity restrictions and recovery expectations.
Patients are usually seen between four to six weeks after the surgery, then at three months, six months, and at one year. Disc replacement patients are seen every year or two for the life of the disc replacement, which is similar to patients who have had a hip or knee replacement.
Schedule Your Cervical Disc Replacement Consultation
If you are experiencing ongoing, chronic neck or back pain, contact us to learn more about cervical disc replacement in Mission Viejo, CA. Call 949-388-7190 to schedule your private consultation with board-certified neurosurgeon Alexander Taghva, MD, or visit AlexTaghvaMD.com to learn more about cervical disc replacement in Orange County, CA.