Developments in Surgery for Degenerative Disc Disease - Spine Expert Dr. Kaixuan Liu Details New Treatment Options for Patients with Chronic Aching Backs

Degenerative disc disease affects approximately 85 percent of adults over the age of 50. The condition typically presents with chronic backaches with numbness and tingling and the majority of the more than 65 million Americans who suffer from lower back pain every year likely have some degree of degenerative disc disease.

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Kaixuan Liu MD, PhD

Today’s artificial disc replacement offers real optimism, and a lot less pain and suffering

West Orange, NJ (PRWEB) January 30, 2013

Degenerative disc disease affects approximately 85 percent of adults over the age of 50. The condition typically presents with chronic backaches with numbness and tingling and the majority of the more than 65 million Americans who suffer from lower back pain every year likely have some degree of degenerative disc disease.

“Degenerative disc disease is the result of an aging spine in which the discs, the spongy, gel-filled shock absorbers distributed between the vertebrae (bones) in your back and neck, changes and along with changes in other spinal structure combines to produce pain,” says Kaixuan Liu MD, PhD, chief surgeon at Atlantic Spine Center in West Orange, N.J. Most people with degenerative disc disease can manage their symptoms with conservative, non-surgical treatments, says Dr. Liu. But some percentage of patients will experience persistent, severe, disabling pain requiring surgery.

Latest degenerative disc disease surgery options
Spine surgeon specialist today can offer patients with a disc damaged by degenerative disc disease a new procedure that replaces the disc with an artificial one. This procedure is called artificial disc replacement and it offers an alternative to the traditional spinal fusion surgery, which has several drawbacks.

Historically, surgeons treated severe cases of degenerative disc disease -related pain with spinal fusion, in which the damaged disc is removed and replaced with a bit of bone, which grows into the adjacent vertebrae to “fuse” them together. But the bones don’t always fuse properly (the average success rate of a lumbar spinal fusion is between 75 and 80 percent), and failure to heal may mean continued pain. When it does work, fusion can cause other problems, Dr. Liu explains. A healthy spine flexes around all of the vertebrae, but a fused spine is fixed in at least one place, which stresses the nearby structures and can lead to additional surgeries in the future.

“Research has shown significant advantages of disc replacement in terms of long-term results and costs,” Dr Liu says. Artificial disc replacement patients are four times less likely than the fusion patients to need additional surgery at a later date. Artificial disc replacement patients also report better satisfaction four years after their surgeries. Studies in patients who were operated on to treat both back (lumbar) and neck (cervical) disc degeneration show that hospital costs for artificial disc replacement are roughly half of those for spinal fusion. Another study of patients who underwent cervical spine surgery found that those who received artificial discs kept more mobility and recovered faster than those who had fusion surgery.

“Today’s artificial disc replacement offers real optimism, and a lot less pain and suffering, says Dr. Liu. This is wonderful news for anyone contemplating surgery for degenerative disc disease pain.”

About Dr. Liu: Kaixuan Liu, M.D., Ph.D., is a renowned endoscopic spine surgeon and founder of Atlantic Spine Center in Edison, New Jersey (http://www.atlanticspinecenter.com).Dr. Liu is certified by The American Board of Pain Medicine and The American Board of Anesthesiology, and is a member of The International Society for Advancement of Spine Surgery, The American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians (ASIPP), The American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM), The International Intradiscal Therapy Society (IITS), and The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA). He also serves as an international surgeon for The Spinal Foundations in England.