NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A brand new artificial disc is helping patients with severe neck pain.

CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reports this new disc is much more like the body’s own natural discs than older models.

That’s always been the problem with artificial joints.

Hips and knees, have been around for decades and are now much more like a natural joint.

Artificial discs have been around for a few years too. First in the lumbar spine and then in the cervical or neck spine. This new one is very close to a natural disc.

Joanna Lopez is a happy and clearly very active 29-year-old. Then about two and a half years ago, she got into a car accident.

Joanna Lopez (Credit: CBS2)

“I had pain up all throughout my neck, into my… upper back. I would have headaches every single day. I would get migraines probably three to four times a week. I didn’t sleep, ever. Like, never ever. Three hours of sleep was a lot for me,” Lopez said.

Her former lifestyle on hold, Joanna tried a number of conservative therapies to ease the pain.

“I tried physical therapy. I did massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic therapy, and I got epidural injections,” Lopez added.

Nothing worked. Then Joanna heard of Dr. Fabien Bitan, chief of spine surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital, who was one of the first surgeons in the country to use a just FDA-approved artificial disc for the cervical spine.

The new M6 disc is one of the first discs that gives a motion close to the physiological motion of the neck. This one is basically compressive and mimics the natural motion.

Artificial neck disc replacement (Credit: Orthofix medical)

The M6 is even built to mimic a natural dis. With a ring or annulus of strong fibers surrounding a spring center or nucleus with titanium plates that secure the disk to the vertebrae above and below.

Joanna had the new disc inserted just two weeks ago. It’s a delicate procedure that requires training to get right.

In the end, she should be able to move her neck in all directions with very few restrictions.

“I’m already feeling better than I was. I still have pain, but it’s, like, a totally different pain. I’m very hopeful just from how I feel now. I am very hopeful,” the 29-year-old added.

In most cases, patients can wait to see if conservative therapy will heal a herniated disc, but after two months or so the herniation can start to calcify and create a more difficult problem.

The new disc isn’t for everyone with a bad neck. Arthritis in the little facet joints of the spine or instability in the neck probably disqualifies you.

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