Spinal fusion is a type of surgery that fuses together two vertebrae to stabilize the bones and prevent further mobility in a section of the spin.
Modern spinal fusion surgery techniques use bone grafts or bone-stimulating proteins between each vertebrae to form bone growth that binds the bones together over time.
Spinal fusion helps to relieve symptoms of pain and stress in the spine that come from a number of spinal conditions or diseases. Spinal fusion prevents flexibility in one portion of the spine, which may impact other areas of the spine and back. Physical therapy helps to ensure that the recovery process after spinal fusion surgery is smooth and without additional complication.
IS SPINAL FUSION RIGHT FOR ME?
Spinal fusion can help to relieve chronic pain in California Spine & Pain Institute patients, when more conservative treatments fail to provide lasting results. Spinal fusion may be recommended for patients suffering from:
- Spondylolisthesis, a condition that occurs when one vertebra slips forward over another;
- Spinal instability, as a result of degenerative diseases like arthritis;
- Spinal deformities;
- Vertebral fractures
Spinal fusion is typically performed alongside procedures like a discectomy (disc removal) or after laminectomy or foraminotomy, in which portions of the spine bone are removed. In some cases, spinal fusion may be recommended to help with stability in patients who have chronic, debilitating back pain for which no specific cause has been found.
The technique for performing a spinal fusion is dependent on the patient and their specific needs.
In spinal fusion, an incision is made over the spine, and muscles and other soft tissues are moved away from the surgical area to give the surgeon access to the spine. A bone graft is then placed between or around the vertebrae, and metal plates, screws or rods are implanted to keep the spine stable. The bone graft material fuses with your spine’s vertebrae over the period of several months.
AM I A CANDIDATE FOR SPINAL FUSION?
Spinal fusion procedures have been well-researched and established, and we generally only recommend it when it’s considered medically necessary to relieve symptoms that cannot be treated with conservative methods like physical therapy and medication.
Most procedures involve a hospital stay of two to three days — this ensures that the surgically treated area has a chance to begin healing. During the recovery period, you are prescribed pain medication to relieve any discomfort, and sometimes a brace or soft cervical collar is used to keep your spine in alignment.
Strenuous physical activity is restricted for several weeks after the procedure, and physical therapy is recommended to help restore your strength and mobility. It takes several months for the bone grafts to completely fuse with the rest of the patient’s spine.
If you have any questions about spinal fusion or would like to consult with Dr. Magued Fadly and the California Spine & Pain Institute on your conditions, contact us today to make an appointment!