FDA approves new device to help disc pain sufferers

Published: Sep. 23, 2019 at 3:03 PM EDT
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Bending down to play with your dog seems like a simple task but for Shay Gipson, it was once impossible.

"I was crying. I thought I was having a heart attack," Gipson said.

She had a herniated disc in her neck. Months of physical therapy did not relieve her pain.

"I started feeling hopeless in the sense of when is this gonna get better?" Gipson said.

She took part in a clinical trial testing a new, artificial cervical disc called the M6-C.

"Really she's sitting bone on top of bone," said Dr. Todd Lanman, a spinal neurosurgeon in Beverly Hills.

Lanman has been working with disc replacements for years and led the clinical trial.

"M6 is the first disc that has a compressible core and replicates the motion of the human disc almost perfectly!" he said.

The artificial disc is made of polycarbonate urethane, a fancy plastic. Surgeons place two titanium plates on each bone and slip the artificial disc in between.

Previously, patients would be treated with spinal fusion but Lanman says fusions can cause even more problems and the recovery is longer.

"Fusions take three months to heal, artificial disks take three to four weeks," he said.

The M6-C is now FDA approved.

"If I can help someone restore mobility and motion and give them functionality in their life, I'm all for that," Lanman said.

Gipson was one of the first patients in the U.S. to get the artificial disc.

"I feel like my life is back!" she said.

Three years later, she says she's grateful to be pain-free.