Can an Artificial Spinal Disc Loosen over Time?

Category: Minimally Invasive Surgery, Spine Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: February 27, 2014

artificial discA frequent question we hear from patients who have hardware (such as an artificial disc) placed in their back during surgery is: will the hardware loosen over time?

The ultimate goal of spinal surgery is to relieve pain by addressing a certain condition, such as replacing a degenerative spinal disc. Unfortunately, spine surgeries are not always an end-all cure for back pain.

Why is Hardware Used?

Hardware is often utilized in spinal surgery to accomplish the following goals:

  • Help stop the motion of an unstable spine
  • Aid in correcting a spinal deformity
  • Assist your surgeon in helping you develop a spine fusion

Although hardware used in spinal surgery is made to last, over time it may loosen if the patient has not grown the required bone in a spine fusion.  Alternatively, the hardware may have been poorly placed by the surgeon who performed the operation. If the latter is the case, a surgical revision will likely be necessary to correct the improperly placed hardware.

Painful Hardware Syndrome

In some patients hardware has also been known to cause pain. This condition is sometimes referred to as “painful hardware syndrome” in which the implanted hardware interacts negatively with the surrounding soft tissues in the spine.

Whatever the reason, if you are experiencing back pain in the area of your disc replacement or spinal fusion, it is a good idea to see your doctor. In general, revision surgery is necessary to fix the underlying hardware issue. If you have had a previous failed back surgery and are looking for a second opinion, give our office a call today to speak with Dr. Sinicropi.

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