For those suffering from chronic back pain, as a result of injury or degenerative disc disease, surgery can be the only option for lasting pain relief. Historically, the only option has been spinal fusion, a procedure which creates a direct bony connection between vertebrae that stops the painful motion of discs that are diseased or injured. While the procedure has been successful to relieve pain, it has drawbacks, like immobility, and complications that can require further surgeries. Advanced Disc Replacement (ADR), a revolutionary technology in spinal surgery, is a natural evolution of spinal neurosurgery that is similar to the whole-joint surgeries orthopedic surgeons have been performing on knee and hip joints for decades. For the past 30 years since he founded Lanman Spinal Neurosurgery, Dr. Todd Lanman has been working with patients with a broad range of spinal injury and degenerative disc disease, including professional athletes, actors and musicians whose livelihood depends on their mobility and spinal health. Through creating an individualized approach, including minimally-invasive microsurgical techniques, to each patient’s unique case, Dr. Lanman helps patients maintain an active lifestyle throughout their lives. Here are some of the major differences to these approaches, and considerations to keep in mind when deciding if ADR is right for you.

Who Can Benefit From Back Surgery?

Chronic neck and back pain can be the result of a degenerative disease to our vertebral discs, a sturdy, but pliable, cushioned shock-absorbing layer for our vertebrae, bones that support our upper body weight, twist and bend. Unfortunately, almost everyone over 40 experiences degenerative disc disease to some extent.

Back surgery is never anyone’s desired first intervention to back pain and, often, Dr. Lanman and Dr. Cuellar treat patients who have undergone spinal surgeries in the past. For most patients, attempting to relieve back pain for at least six months through non-surgical techniques is advised. If their pain persists after a minimum of six months of interventions like heat treatment, maximal tolerated activity, physical therapy, oral analgesics and corticosteroids, they may be a candidate for back surgery such as Advanced Disc Replacement.

What is Spinal Fusion?

Spinal fusion is the traditional approach to degenerative disc disease and relieves pain by inhibiting movement. Spinal fusion provides internal structural support through using bone grafts, implants and/or pedicle screws, so that a direct, bony connection forms between the vertebrae that surround the painful discs. Both cervical and lumbar spinal fusion surgeries are commonly performed by spine surgeons and can reduce pain, disability with a low risk of complication.

What are the risks of Spinal Fusion?

There are complications and downsides to spinal fusion, including a substantial loss of mobility, an increased risk of failure in adjacent disks and a longer recovery time than Advanced Disc Replacement.

What is ADR?

Artificial Disc Replacement (ADR) has emerged as one of the leading surgical procedures for treating chronic neck and back pain. Instead of fusing the vertebrae of the neck and spine, a spinal neurosurgeon will remove the diseased and damaged intervertebral disc and replace it with an artificial joint. In most cases, ADR will reduce or eliminate pain as well as restore spinal movement and improve a patient’s quality of life. ADR also typically provides long-term results, with the artificial discs lasting more than 70 years. Both at his surgical practice, Lanman Spinal Neurosurgery, and as an ADR clinical trial Lead Investigator, Dr. Lanman champions ADR for its low risk of complications, preservation of mobility for the spine and faster recovery versus spinal fusion.

What are the risks of ADR?

Unfortunately, in some cases, patients are not candidates for Advanced Disc Replacement. If the bones of their spine are not healthy enough to support the artificial discs, such as due to osteoporosis of the spine, vertebral compression, ankylosing spondylitis or as a result of complication from failed spinal surgery, a patient may not qualify for this approach. Only a qualified spine surgeon can determine whether ADR is right for you, so setting up a consultation with a spinal surgeon who has both the skills and experience in ADR is the first step to determining if you are a candidate for this approach.

How Do I Know Which Approach Is Right For Me?

Not every patient is a candidate for every procedure. The most important step when considering spinal surgery is to have a comprehensive consultation with an experienced spinal neurosurgeon who can determine which, if any, course of treatment is right for your unique case. As a world-renowned spinal neurosurgeon and leading expert in Advanced Disc Replacement and motion preservation surgeries, Dr. Lanman utilizes a proprietary 4D Health Process to consider your age, hormonal status and lifestyle considerations like nutrition and exercise in addition to your spine and joint health. This allows him to consider the full picture of your pain, reduced mobility, impact of prior fusion surgeries to provide a clear direction for future interventions.

“With an artificial disc, you maintain motion and flexibility. The whole purpose is to keep patients moving and active as they age. So when I see you, we’re going to make a plan - not about just treating your film. I’m treating you.”

Artificial Disc Replacement Vs Spinal Fusion

If you’re suffering from the chronic pain of degenerative disc disease, or have complications despite prior spinal surgeries, you don’t have to settle for a life of restricted mobility and discomfort. At Lanman Spinal Neurosurgery and ADR, we are dedicated to addressing the needs of each patient through a customized approach designed to maximize their quality of life. To learn more about whether you might benefit from Advanced Disc Replacement or Restorative Motion Surgery, reach out to a member of our team by emailing

Dr. Lanman, founder of Lanman Spinal Neurosurgery and ADR, is a leading specialist in the advancement of spine health, spinal surgery and restoring mobility, with a focus on 4D Health. He has led clinical trials in Advanced Disc Replacement that have led to FDA pre-market approval for devices that provide lasting pain relief for patients suffering from spinal injury, as well as increased mobility for patients who have undergone past fusion surgeries. Named among the Top Doctors in America, as well as one of L.A’s Top Doctors by The Hollywood Reporter, Dr. Lanman is internationally renowned and sought after by professional actors, musicians, athletes, CEOs, and dignitaries, who travel thousands of miles to be treated in his care. A leading innovator in medicine, as well as a media educator and contributor, Dr. Lanman is dedicated to sharing his considerable expertise, serving as an assistant clinical professor at UCLA for over 20 years.


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