Return to Sports After Cervical Total Disc Replacement

World Neurosurg. 2017 Jan:97:241-246. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2016.10.042. Epub 2016 Oct 14.


Objective: Total disc replacement (TDR) is typically indicated in young patients with a cervical soft disc herniation. There are few data on the activity level of patients after cervical TDR, in particular from young patients who are expected to have a high activity level with frequent exercising. The expectation is that returning to active sports after cervical TDR is not restricted.

Methods: Fifty patients were treated with a monosegmental cervical TDR at our department between May 2006 and March 2012. Clinical status and radiographic parameters were evaluated preoperatively and during follow-up. In addition, information was gathered regarding neck disability index, pain, a questionnaire concerning athletic aspects, and a modified Tegner activity score. The study design was a prospective case series.

Results: All patients were treated with the Prestige artificial cervical disc for a single-level soft disc herniation with radiculopathy. The average age was 40 years, and the mean follow-up period was 53 months (range, 26-96). The median neck disability index during follow-up was 5, and median visual analog scale for pain was 2. Two professional athletes, 20 semiprofessionals, 24 hobby athletes, and 5 patients with a very low activity level were treated. The median time to resumption of sporting activity was 4 weeks after surgery. All professionals and semiprofessionals recovered to their previous activity level. All of the 20 hobby athletes recovered to resume their sport participation. The modified Tegner preoperative score was 4 and the postoperative score was 3.5 (P = 0.806).

Conclusions: We found that cervical TDR did not prohibit sporting activities. All patients recovered and were able to take part in their previous activities at an appropriate intensity level.

Keywords: Activity level; Cervical arthroplasty; Disc degeneration; Sports; Total disc replacement.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cervical Vertebrae / surgery*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc Degeneration / diagnostic imaging
  • Intervertebral Disc Degeneration / surgery*
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / diagnostic imaging
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology
  • Return to Sport / trends*
  • Sports / trends*
  • Total Disc Replacement / trends*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult