Spring 2016
Artificial Disc Leads To Real-Life Success
Spine surgery that preserves motion helps patient live her dream of
becoming a certified fitness instructor

Busy working mom Michelle Carter was always on the go. That is, until pain in her shoulder started limiting her activities. She came to Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates looking for relief. Not only did she return to her regular lifestyle, she became even more active by becoming a certified fitness, Zumba and kickboxing instructor.

No Time For Pain
At the age of 44, Michelle had been experiencing pain in her shoulder for 18 months when her doctor sent her for an MRI. Imaging revealed bad cartilage in her neck, as well as bone spurs that were pinching the nerve and causing neck and arm pain.

"I woke up every day in pain," said Michelle. "Some days were worse than others. I tried to continue my regular activities but there was always pain and stiffness in my neck. I would limit my daily plans because I never knew when the pain would get worse."

Vinay Deshmukh, MD, FACS
Vinay Deshmukh, MD, FACS
artificial disc
The device consists of two endplates and a disc core that fits between them.
As a mom who also enjoyed volunteering and helping others, Michelle found this ongoing pain was taking a toll on her. After her MRI, she was referred to neurosurgeon Vinay Deshmukh, MD, FACS, of Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates.

"I felt a sense of comfort right away with Dr. Deshmukh," said Michelle. "Everyone at the practice treated me well. You could tell they cared about how I felt. I was never rushed in and out."

After conservative treatment proved ineffective in relieving Michelle's pain, surgery was the next option to consider.

"Because Michelle was so young, I recommended implanting an artificial disc instead of performing a spinal fusion," said Dr. Deshmukh. "This would give her more mobility and there would be less risk of her needing a future surgery."

With the artificial disc procedure, a one-inch incision is made through an anterior approach to the neck. The diseased disc is removed and the artificial disc is inserted. The device consists of two endplates that are secured to the top and bottom surfaces of the involved vertebrae, and the disc core that fits between them.

Michelle underwent the procedure and was home the next day. She returned to work about two weeks later.

"After the surgery, I had no pain at all," said Michelle. "The most difficult part for me was realizing I had undergone major surgery and my body needed time to recover. I had to avoid doing too much before my body was ready."

Once she was finally pain-free, Michelle could be more active in volunteering and also decided to pursue a lifelong dream.

"I have always wanted to be a fitness instructor," said Michelle. "Before the surgery I just didn't think it was possible. After the surgery was such a success, earning my fitness certification was the first thing I wanted to do."

Within a year of her surgery, Michelle completed her group fitness certification, Zumba certification and kickboxing certification. Now she teaches fitness classes five nights a weeks with some weekend classes.

"Before the surgery, each day was full of pain and uncertainty," said Michelle. "This surgery has changed my life."

Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates neurosurgeons implanted the first artificial disc in the Carolinas in 2003. Since then, our practice has remained a pioneer on both the local and national levels in the field of artificial disc surgery.

To learn more about the comprehensive spine services at our practice,
call 800-344-6716 or click here.
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