Patient Information Resources

Alpine Physical Therapy
Three Locations
In North, South, and Downtown Missoula
Missoula, MT 59804
Ph: 406-251-2323
Fax: 406-251-2999

Child Orthopedics
Pain Management
Spine - Cervical
Spine - General
Spine - Lumbar
Spine - Thoracic

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I have two bones in my neck that have been destroyed by cancer. Thank God the cancer is gone now but my neck is terribly unstable. Could I be able to get a disc replacement? Would something like that work for me?

If the vertebral bones are destroyed, a disc replacement probably won't help you but an orthopedic surgeon who can examine you directly is really the one to evaluate and advise you. The disc is a gel-like cushion that sits between the vertebrae. Disc replacements are usually used for patients who have degenerative disc disease rather than bone disease. Without the structural support of the bones, a disc replacement isn't recommended. Cancer affecting the bones (either primary or metastases) is usually a contraindication to disc replacement when there is disc disease. Sometimes even with spinal instability, conservative (nonoperative) care is helpful -- and all that's needed. It is possible that your situation may require a fusion procedure. This would be possible if the adjacent bones are strong enough to support bone grafting materials. Treatment may be influenced by your age, activity level, amount of instability present in the spine, and cancer prognosis. Other factors the surgeon will take into consideration include presence of osteopenia (decreased bone density), osteoporosis (brittle bones), spinal deformity, and results of any imaging studies done (e.g., X-rays, CT scans, MRIs).


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