What Is A Spinal Fusion, And Does It Work?

Spinal Fusion

"Oh, my aching back!" Have you heard this before? Up to 80% of adults suffer from back discomfort at some point in their lives, and they all seek alleviation. Most persons with back pain will benefit from nonsurgical treatments such as heat, ice, exercise, and time. This is because their pain stems from a muscular or ligament strain.

However, other people's pain is caused by structural abnormalities in their spines, and these people can benefit substantially from spinal surgery.

Spinal Fusion Explained

A spinal fusion is a popular type of sophisticated spinal surgery that can alleviate chronic back pain in some cases. These include addressing spinal instability or deformity. Spinal fusion is also used to treat some degenerative diseases and spinal fractures.

During the treatment, your surgeon inserts bone or a bone-like material into the areas between two or more spinal vertebrae, causing them to grow together, or fuse, over time. The bone graft might come from a bone bank or your own body, usually your pelvis. Metal plates, screws, and rods are utilized to keep the vertebrae together as one solid unit while they heal. Your surgeon may potentially remove a part of your spine to relieve pressure on the nerve(s) that are causing pain.

Spinal Fusion Considerations

Spinal fusion is generally considered a safe treatment. However, like any other operation, it may involve complications. Therefore, it is vital to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of this operation, as it permanently immobilizes sections of the spine and alters the way the spine moves. Most of my patients indicate that this loss of mobility has had no substantial impact on their lives and that their quality of life has improved as a result of the pain reduction.

Even if spinal fusion relieves your symptoms, it does not prevent you from having back pain again in the future. Most degenerative disorders in the spine are caused by arthritis, which cannot be cured with surgery. Furthermore, vertebral fusion can raise stress and strain on the vertebrae above and below the fused region, potentially speeding up the rate at which those areas of your spine degrade, a condition known as neighboring segment disease.

Spinal Fusion Recovery

If you have a spinal fusion procedure, you will typically stay in the hospital for one to three nights, although you will be encouraged to walk the day after surgery. Physical rehabilitation will begin approximately six weeks following surgery. You will also have to lift limits immediately following the treatment, as well as a 50-pound weight-lifting restriction for the remainder of your life, to reduce the strain on the spine and the risk of an adjacent segment problem.

It is critical not to rush your rehabilitation because the bone transplant takes time to heal and immobilize a section of your spine. Nicotine inhibits bone formation and the healing process; therefore, you must refrain from using tobacco or nicotine for six weeks before surgery and at least one year afterward. Better yet, quit smoking totally.

You Don’t Have to Live in Pain

One of the most effective approaches in determining if spinal fusion surgery is worth the risk is to consider the consequences of delaying it. If you are already in pain, there is a potential that it will worsen in the next months, causing you to lose more mobility and feel less comfortable completing everyday activities. It is doubtful that you will recover on your own; therefore, the sooner you seek treatment, the higher your chances of success. The opportunity to live pain-free makes spinal fusion worthwhile.

If you are currently suffering from back discomfort, seek help right now. Following a thorough conversation about your specific case, your doctor may prescribe the best treatment for you, which could range from spinal fusion to disc replacement or other therapies dependent on your needs, such as cervical disc replacement. If you're ready to take the initial steps toward therapy and a life free of back pain, contact your doctor right away.

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