Damaged discs lose water as they degenerate, which causes them to thin and become less flexible. As they thin, discs lose the padding needed to adequately absorb movement. C-spine disc degeneration can also lead to pinched or irritated nerves, which can cause pain, weakness, or even numbness in the arms and hands.
To relieve a patient’s pain, doctors may choose to replace the damaged disc in his or her neck. Before artificial discs became available, fusion therapy (anterior cervical discectomy and fusion) was often used for cervical disc replacement. In fusion surgery, a doctor removes the damaged disc and fills the space with a plastic bone spacer. This spacer is used to replicate a proper disc height and remove pressure on the nerves and spinal cord. After the spacer is inserted, a metal plate is screwed in place to keep the spacers solidly attached.
While fusion surgery can help release pinched nerves and reduce pain, the procedure limits movement at the surgery site. Disc replacement with a Mobi-C artificial disc is a surgical alternative to fusion therapy which aims to replace damaged discs while still maintaining neck movement. The Mobi-C device allows for faster recovery times and a more active post-surgery life.
Mobi-C cervical discs are a substitute for the traditional bone spacers used in fusion surgery. During a disc replacement, the damaged disc is replaced with a Mobi-C device instead of a bone spacer. Unlike fusion surgery, Mobi-C placement does not require any invasive screws or bone chiseling and, once inserted, allows for a fuller range of motion. As you move your neck, the vertebrae above and below the Mobi-C can move as well, mimicking the movement of a natural cervical spine. Doctors are beginning to use Mobi-C devices as a substitute for more traditional procedures due to the better range of motion they allow patients.
As a 52-year-old athlete, business executive, and mother of two, Nicole Haratani is a strong proponent of disc replacements with Mobi-C devices. Nicole is always on the move and when she began experiencing pain and arm weakness four years ago, she needed a treatment option that would allow her to maintain her active lifestyle. That’s why, when an MRI revealed two ruptured discs in her spine, she sought the advice of Dr. Jeffrey Coe, an orthopedic surgeon at El Camino Hospital. Dr. Coe recommended the Mobi-C device as an alternative to traditional fusion surgery. The treatment was successful and, just four weeks after surgery, Nicole was back to her regular exercise routine.
The Mobi-C disc allowed Nicole to reduce her back and neck pain without compromising her active lifestyle. “I highly recommend this surgery to others who are feeling neck and shoulder pain,” Nicole said, “If you want to get back to a better quality of life, I encourage you to look into [Mobi-C].” The Mobi-C device can be a great alternative to more invasive treatment options. Read more about Nicole’s experience.
El Camino Hospital is known for its spine care expertise, and is highly trained in innovative disc replacement procedures. If you experience back, neck, or shoulder pain, talk to an orthopedic spine specialist about possible treatment options and see if an artificial disc is right for you. With Mobi-C disc replacement, it is possible to treat your cervical spine degeneration without settling for a less active lifestyle.
This article first appeared in the April 2017 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter and was updated in August 2023.