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What Is A Spinal Implant And Who Can Benefit?

August 14, 2019 | Spine Surgery

A Device For Pain Relief

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A spinal implant is a device used to relieve back pain and manage disorders related to the spine. The spinal column, also known as the vertebrae, is comprised of 33 bones that enable the body to stand upright, sit, and bend. The vertebrae has five sections: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacrum, coccyx. Each section has spinal discs to allow movement. Due to the complexities of the spine, spinal implants vary in size, shape, and functionality.

Types of spinal implants

There are several types of implants doctors use to fix a patient’s spinal issues. Some of the most common spinal implants include cages, hooks, plates, screws, rods, and spinal cord stimulators.


Cages are medical devices made with a hollow center and perforated walls. This device is used for patients with a collapsed disc. The cage can be placed around a set of discs to encourage bone growth.


Hooks are used in conjunction with other devices, like rods, to anchor things in place. There are several types of hooks including sublaminar and intralaminar hooks.


Doctors use special tools to conform plates to the shape of the spine. Plates are held in place by screws placed in the vertebrae.

Pedicle screws

Pedicle screws can be used as anchor points for spinal rods. Screws vary in size and shape and can also be used to secure bone fractures.


Rods are flexible devices used to limit movement of certain sections of the spine to correct the vertebrae. Rods can be rounded, smooth, or threaded.

Spinal cord stimulator

A spinal cord stimulator is an implant that sends electric shocks to the spine to relieve back pain. Doctors also use medical-grade cables to apply tension to a person’s spine.

When are spinal implants needed?

Doctors will use any of these devices to treat patients that have chronic degenerative disc disease, scoliosis, or traumatic fracture. All these conditions require corrective surgery and spinal implants may be part of the healing process.

How do doctors install a spinal implant?

Technological advancements have enabled doctors to perform minimally invasive spine surgeries. Doctors can make a small incision in the back and use microscopes to install implants. Newer implants are constructed from hard plastic, titanium, and hydroxyapatite. These materials are durable and less likely to cause infection. Furthermore, some of these materials are similar to human bone and encourage bone growth.

Who can benefit from spinal implants?

Anyone suffering from a degenerative spinal condition or recovering from fusion surgery may benefit from an implant. Spinal fusion surgery binds segments of the vertebrae together to stop unnecessary movement that causes pain. A spinal implant maintains the results of the surgery. For questions regarding spinal implants or surgery, consult a spine surgeon to better understand treatment options.

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