LAWTON, OK (KSWO)- Numbness, tingling, and weakness in your arm or hand may mean you have a problem with a herniated disc in your neck. But now, thanks to a relatively new surgery, doctors can treat it without taking away any of your mobility.
Doctors say the Mobi-C cervical disc replacement surgery could change your quality of life. Comanche County Memorial Hospital has the only doctor in Southwest Oklahoma certified to do it.
Disc problems can start from over-use, accidents, or daily wear and tear. When a disc starts to bulge or herniated and pinch the spinal cord or nerves, it can cause a lot of pain.
"We're trying to preserve as much motion in your neck as possible while achieving decompression of the nerves so that your pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness improves," Neurosurgeon Dr. Mark Duncan says that often involves surgery.
In the past, doctors often performed a surgery called a fusion that takes away mobility in the affected area. This new alternative surgery could change that.
"Now, we can offer patients a surgery where we take the pressure off the nerve and they can maintain their motion."
While the two procedures are fairly similar, Dr. Duncan explains the potential Mobi-C artificial cervical disc benefits.
"In both cases, we are going to remove the disc and we're going to take the pressure off the nerve. With artificial disc surgery, we remove the herniated disc, take the pressure off the nerve, and then we measure for an artificial disc. We get the right size, we put it in between the bones in the neck and it stays there. You're able to flex. You're able to extend. You're able to rotate your neck at a level which you're not able to do with fusion.'
Dr. Duncan says that during the fusion procedure, they may remove more bone. That means a longer recovery and healing time in comparison to the artificial disc.
"Your body's not trying to grow bone together like it is in cervical fusion. So, your neck is as stable as it's going to get."
Cervical fusion may take up to 8 weeks to recover from in comparison to 6 to 8 weeks for the artificial disc surgery. Dr. Duncan says some patients have reported going back to work as early as 4 weeks.
"What I'm seeing is patients returning to their regular activities earlier. I'm seeing less postoperative neck pain, and less arm pain."
Dr. Duncan explained that fusion often adds stress on the levels above and below the fused bones which can land you back in the operating room in five years.
"If you make something so rigid, another part of that structure has to bear the stress. Artificial disc surgery prevents what we call adjacent segment disease. Which just means that the levels above and below a fusion are going to wear out before they normally would if you didn't have the surgery."
Dr. Duncan says the artificial disc is made with the same material used in artificial hip or knee replacements; it was FDA approved in 2013.
If you have neck pain, numbness, weakness or tingling in your arms or hands, talk with your doctor to find out what your best options are for treatment.
In other health news, the Leah M. Fitch Cancer Center in Lawton will be having their annual free Prostate Cancer Screening on Saturday, September 9th from 8:00 a.m. to noon. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 580-250-6565.