Disc Replacement Surgery vs Spinal Fusion: Which Do You Need?

Doctor talking to a patient​

For a long time, one treatment of choice for spinal injuries has been spinal fusion. However, as the medical field has advanced, surgeons have developed a new method for treating some of the injuries traditionally treated by spinal fusion. We’re talking about disc replacement surgery.

When it comes to treating injuries related to a damaged disc in the spine, surgeons will likely consider one of these two procedures. Below is some more information about both so you can understand what kind of treatment you can expect if you need surgery for a damaged disc in your spine.

What is spinal fusion?

The objective of spinal fusion is to join two or more vertebrae together into one solid piece of bone. This is usually done after removing the damaged portion of the disc. Fusing the vertebrae together this way provides stability for the spine in place of the missing disc.

Surgeons perform spinal fusion by grafting a piece of bone from another part of your body and placing it in wire housing between the affected vertebrae. With some time, this bone will fuse into the vertebrae and create a solid piece of bone. This limits the movement of those particular vertebrae, but reduces pain and improves range of motion in the rest of your spine.

What is disc replacement surgery?

With disc replacement, the surgeon removes a damaged disc and replaces it with an artificial one. This procedure is beneficial because its recovery is shorter and less painful, and it doesn’t limit the mobility of the treated vertebrae.

Who is a good candidate for disc replacement?

Whether you need disc replacement or spinal fusion depends on where the injury is located in your spine, how many discs are damaged, and if you have any existing spine conditions or previous spine injuries.

A spinal fusion is more applicable in situations where other factors like these are involved. However, you may be a candidate for disc replacement surgery if the injury is in an easy-to-reach location for surgeons, doesn’t affect more than a couple of discs, and isn’t complicated by other conditions.

Visit the iRISE Spine and Joint Institute for spine injury treatment

Do you have pain in your spine-related to a herniated disc or similar injuries? Our orthopedic specialists at the Florida Spine and Joint Institute can perform disc replacement surgery, spinal fusion, and other procedures to help you recover. Contact our team today for more information about spinal fusion and disc replacement surgery or to schedule an initial appointment.