New procedure for patients with chronic neck pain

DURHAM Duke doctors are among a few in the Triangle who perform the procedure. It involves the first and only artificial disk for the neck.

Two years ago, 33-year-old Ana Mica Diaz was at work cleaning the floor when she fell and damaged disks in her neck and back.

Diaz has been living in excruciating pain ever since. Desperate for help, she was referred to Duke spine surgeon Chris Brown. at the Duke Spine Center.

"She had a lot of arm pain from a herniated disk," Brown explained. "She was a relatively young patient, so we didn't want to do a fusion which is what we used to do, which is taking away motion which can lead to problems in the area around it."

Brown recommended and performed a recently approved FDA procedure called Prestige. It's a new option for those like Diaz, who have chronic neck pain or degenerative disk disease.

"Any spine surgeon agrees the goal is to take the disk out and take the pressure off the spinal cord or the nerves," Brown said. "And the question is what [do] you fill that space with? The old surgery is filling it with something called a fusion that takes away motion. This surgery is filling it with a prosthesis that maintains motion.

By maintaining motion with the artificial disk, doctors believe future damage to the areas above or below it can be prevented. Even though she's still healing, Diaz felt immediate relief.

"They [patients] have a little neck stiffness after the surgery, which is the case regardless of whatever surgery you do, but she woke up with the arm pain gone ," Brown said.

Doctors say the Prestige disk replacement option is especially good for younger patients like Diaz, who's now living with a prosthesis in her neck and a lot less pain.

Doctors at the Duke Spine Center are just one of a few in the Triangle performing the procedure.

For more information about the Prestige procedure, click here.

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