Artificial Disc Replacement: How to Make an Informed Decision

When faced with a spine problem that necessitates surgery, like artificial disc replacement, individuals often grapple with the question of whether to wait for future advancements or proceed with the available surgical techniques. 

How do you know when the time is right for spine surgery?

There are several factors to take into consideration during the decision-making process, weighing the benefits of waiting for future developments against the urgency of addressing current spine issues.

In our Spine-Talks on Artificial Disc Replacement for the Neck, our experts stressed the importance of considering the practicality and timeframe of these advancements. In this article, we will talk through the factors that you should consider when embarking on your artificial disc replacement surgical journey. These items include:

  1. Considering the Evolution of Surgical Technology
  2. Setting Realistic Expectations for Future Advancements
  3. Prioritizing Your Current Health and Quality of Life 

Step #1: Consider The Evolution of Surgical Technology

Advances in surgical technology have revolutionized the field of spine surgery, particularly within the field of artificial disc replacement, leading to significant improvements in patient outcomes and experiences over the past decade. This includes substantial progress achieved with current generations of artificial disc replacements. These techniques have been refined over time and have shown great efficacy. While it is natural to anticipate future technologies, it is crucial to recognize the remarkable capabilities of existing surgical techniques.

Step #2: Set Realistic Expectations for Future Advancements 

While technological advancements in the field of spine surgery hold great promise, the timeframe for their availability might extend for several decades. During this Spine-Talks program, Dr. Schuler acknowledged the ongoing efforts in developing implantable artificial discs derived from human sources and utilizing 3D printing technology. However, he emphasized the importance of setting realistic expectations of when these technologies might be available for widespread clinical use. It is vital to consider the immediate needs of individuals suffering from spine problems and the impact that waiting for theoretical advances may have on their health and well-being.

Step #3: Prioritize Your Current Health and Quality of Life

When facing spine problems, the ability to maintain an active lifestyle and take care of oneself becomes paramount. Daily back pain is not normal and waiting for potential future advancements, even if they seem enticing, can have severe consequences on your overall health and quality of life. Inactivity due to pain or limited mobility can lead to further health complications and a decline in physical well-being. It is crucial to prioritize current health needs and not let the anticipation of future developments hinder the opportunity for a better quality of life today. 

The important factor is that you prioritize your health and start your journey towards addressing your back or neck pain. In fact, Dr. Schuler says on this matter, “You’ve got to continue to live your life and your health depends on that. If you can’t move, you can’t take care of yourself, you can’t stay healthy.”


The decision of whether to wait for future advancements in surgery or proceed with current techniques does not have to be a complex one. While the allure of cutting-edge technology is understandable, it is crucial to consider the practicality and timeframe of these advancements. Prioritizing current health and well-being should be the guiding factor in making an informed decision. 

The current generations of surgical techniques have shown remarkable efficacy and continue to improve. Waiting for future developments, which may be years or even decades away, can impede an individual’s ability to live a fulfilling and healthy life. By consulting with spinal specialists, individuals can make informed decisions that optimize their current well-being.


Have Questions About Artificial Disc Replacement?

Ask Aaron Baker, a Spinal Champion Advocate.

Our Spinal Champion Advocates are available to personally answer questions for other patients who are on their spine health journey; free of charge.

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