A world champion powerboat racer, Russell “Rusty” Rahm owns the No. 17 Wake Effects MTI powerboat, which he raced to an SBI World Championship title in 2016. In early 2017, Rusty Rahm reached out to Dr. Michael Janssen for relief from severe neck pain, which was beginning to interfere with his racing and overall physical well-being. Dr. Janssen, a highly respected spine and orthopedic surgeon, corrected Mr. Rahm’s condition through total disc replacement surgery.
Although total disc replacement (TDR) procedures have been used in Europe since the 1980s, surgeons in the United States have only had access to FDA-approved artificial discs for a little over a decade. Since then, TDR surgery has been offered as an alternative to spinal fusion, which isn’t always the best course of treatment for all patients requiring surgery.
TDR is used in patients with chronic disc-induced pain that has not responded to more conservative treatments such as medication, physical therapy, and/or spinal manipulation. To complete the procedure, a spine surgeon removes the degenerative disc and replaces it with an artificial disc that connects to the vertebrae above and below it, using two plates.
Unlike spinal fusion, which prevents the painful spinal segment from moving, artificial discs are designed to support normal spinal movement. This can prevent abnormal wear and tear on other parts of the spine while helping patients get back to regular activities as quickly as possible.