Spinal fusion surgery prevents movement between vertebrae that are rubbing against each other and causing you pain. After the procedure, the two vertebrae are fused together, eliminating any movement between them. Your pain should then completely disappear, permanently. While the spinal doctors at the Southeastern Spine Institute perform surgical procedures only as a last resort for treating back pain, spinal fusion can lead to a long-term pain resolution for the right candidate.
And while there are a number of approaches your spine surgeon can take to provide relief, most spinal fusion procedures involve:
- Bone grafts applied to the affected area of the spine
- Setting up the right biological responses between the vertebrae to initiate and support the graft taking hold
- The actual spinal fusion to stop the movement in the painful joint
Best Candidates for the Procedure
Spinal fusion is considered one of the best procedures to treat people with:
- Lumbar Spondylolisthesis
- Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease
- Unstable or weak spine
- Spinal fractures
Whether spinal fusion is right for you depends on a number of factors that your physician will discuss with you. Ideally, the procedure works best when there are only two vertebrae involved in the movement that require the graft. With a one-level fusion, you may not even notice any limitations in your movement.
Spinal fusion on two levels may feel slightly restrictive, depending on the location of the afflicted vertebrae. Once you go beyond two levels, though, you’ll definitely notice a marked reduction in movement. Lack of movement often results in more pain, which is why the expert surgeons at the Southeastern Spine Institute seldom perform the procedure on three or more levels. Typically, spinal fusion of three or more levels is reserved for those with the most severe spinal handicaps, such as extensive scoliosis or life-threatening deformities.
Both you and your spine surgeon play a big role in successful spinal fusion. First, you need an accurate diagnosis, with clear objectives for the procedure. You need a spinal surgeon who’s adept at the procedure, so don’t be afraid to ask how many times or how often your doctor’s performed it. You’ll find the physicians at the Southeast Spine Institute eager to talk to you about their experience.
The rest of the responsibility for success rests with you. Spinal fusion works best on people who do not smoke, are not obese and live a relatively healthy lifestyle. As with any surgery, a positive attitude goes a long way. Additionally, you must be motivated to pursue the physical therapy that’s going to be required following your spinal fusion surgery. You’ll work with an experienced physical therapist whose goal it is to get you back to your regular daily functions as quickly as possible.
So trust the process and get ready to do your part — you stand a very good chance of being relieved of your back pain permanently. Spinal fusions almost always lead to pain-free living with little or no residual complications.