I'm 65-years old and feel like the replacement man. I've got dentures, a total knee replacement, and a fake eye because of macular degeneration. Now I see they have disc replacements for the spine. Is that another thing I can expect to see in my lifetime?
Studies show that eight out of 10 adults will have back pain sometime in their life. Most people get better without treatment. A small number of folks will go on to have chronic low back pain.
Many aging adults have back pain from degenerative disc disease. The discs wear thin. Sometimes they herniate causing pressure on the spinal nerves and constant pain. Surgery is an option when conservative care doesn't help. Spinal fusion is the most common operation.
Researchers are trying to design an implant to replace all or part of the disc. It's not likely that everyone with disc problems will need or want a disc implant. This form of treatment is still in its very early stages of development.
Right now replacement is suggested for anyone with pain that has not gotten better with at least six months of active treatment. Imaging studies must also show a major loss of disc space height. The facet joints must not be fused or severely arthritic. Unless you meet all these criteria, it's not likely you'll need a disc implant yourself.