Neck Pain? Weak Arm? Numb Hand? Find Lasting Relief With Cervical Disc Replacement

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Unbearable neck pain. Weakness in the arm. Numbness in the hand. 

The MRI confirmed what the symptoms were telling Dr. Ezriel Kornel—the patient was suffering from a herniated cervical disc. Thankfully, the message Dr. Kornel delivered was one of hope and healing. 

“This patient came to me because the neck and arm pain had become too much to handle,” Dr. Kornel explains. “Their quality of life was diminishing. They had tried physical therapy, chiropractic sessions and pain medications, but none of these approaches provided any long-term relief.”

Dr. Kornel—a Castle Connolly Top Doctor with a thriving New York City-area practice—was confident that cervical spine disc replacement surgery would bring the healing this patient desired. And he was right. “They had the surgery, went home the same day, and were pain free and fully functional within a month,” he says with excitement in his voice. 

This begs the question: What is cervical spine disc replacement?

To better understand the procedure, Dr. Kornel first explains that the cervical portion of the spine is housed in the neck and is made up of seven vertebrae. In between each of the vertebrae are cervical discs, which act as cushions to help the neck move and bend without impacting the surrounding nerves. When the inner core of one of these discs breaks and presses on an adjacent nerve root, it is called a herniated disc.

In the past, the best solution for a herniated cervical disc was a procedure called “spinal fusion”, which permanently connected—“fused”—two or more vertebrae together. During spinal fusion, the surgeon would place material—real bone, sometimes—between the impacted vertebrae and then use screws and plates to hold them together. “This procedure was the most effective alternative for many years,” Dr. Kornel explains.

Today, however, cervical spine disc replacement is the preferred choice for appropriate candidates. 

“It’s far more sophisticated and effective,” Dr. Kornel asserts. “Traditional spinal fusion would limit the patient’s post-operative movement, but disc replacement allows for much more mobility.” This normal movement, in turn, reduces the risk of the adjacent discs giving out. 

Another significant advantage of disc replacement vs. spinal fusion is that it is a minimally invasive procedure. Dr. Kornel explains that the surgeon uses a small cut in the lower neck to access the damaged disc or discs. Magnification tools and x-rays are also used to provide clearer visualization of the neck’s interior structure. 

This minimally-invasive approach to solving cervical decompression has significant benefits:

Less bleeding and surgical trauma

Shorter hospital stays

Faster recovery

Higher overall success rate for relieving pain

 
 

“It’s far more sophisticated and effective,” Dr. Kornel asserts. “Traditional spinal fusion would limit the patient’s post-operative movement, but disc replacement allows for much more mobility.” - Dr. Ezriel Kornel

 
 

Are you a candidate for cervical disc replacement surgery? Dr. Kornel says individuals who have neck pain, frequent headaches, radiating shoulder and arm pain, muscle weakness between the shoulder and hand, or tingling in the arm and fingers could benefit from the procedure. 

Still, he asserts that it’s essential to work with a board-certified surgeon who has the proven education, expertise, and experience to perform the procedure safely and effectively. Doctors with board certification have demonstrated their expertise through extensive education—in some cases more than six years—and lengthy supervised residency training. All boards require the doctor to pass a written exam. Some specialties also require an oral exam. Dr. Kornel is certified by The American Board of Neurological Surgeons.

 

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