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Understanding Spinal Fusion Surgery

spinal fusion

What Is Spinal Fusion Surgery & How It Can Help You?

If you’ve experienced a bad work-related or vehicular-related accident, you may have suffered breaks or injuries in your vertebrae. The back takes a long time to heal. You may have reached the point where you need spinal fusion surgery. If you’ve been experiencing a lack of movement or excessive pain, there is much that a spine surgeon can offer.

What is the Purpose of Spinal Fusion Surgery?

Spinal fusion surgery focuses on the smaller bones in your back, also know as vertebra (single) or vertebrae (plural). During a bad accident, they can become damaged or separated. They may be broken into one or more pieces that can place excessive pressure on joints or nerves, causing bad pain. The main purpose of spinal fusion is to fuse together vertebrae to make one single bone. If your doctor can pinpoint the exact location of your pain, this can be an effective treatment.

Understanding Spinal Fusion Surgical Procedure

Spinal fusion has actually been done for decades, but today’s techniques are more effective. There are different techniques that may be done to fuse the spine together.

In the past, a bone graft was harvested from the patient’s hip to help fuse the vertebrae. This involves a longer time for healing. Allografts are sourced from cadavers from a bone bank but may not be a good match. Today, there are many artificial bone graft materials available.

One of the techniques actually involves accessing your spine from the front of your body, also known as an anterior approach. The surgeon will make an incision in the lower part of your abdomen.

There is also the posterior approach where they make an incision on your back. A third technique involves a lateral approach, or from the side.

The next step involves a bone graft, which is needed to help promote a bone fusion. This involves placing small pieces of bone between the two spaces that are to be fused together.

This bone graft will help to stimulate healing and the growing of new bone. This will enable the vertebrae to heal together into one solid bone.

Risks & Recovery of Spinal Fusion Surgery

After your surgery, you’ll need to be immobilized. This involves bed rest, then the wearing of a special brace once you’re able to get up and walk around. You may have plates, screws, or rods to hold your spine still. These will all need to be removed at a later date. The one benefit of this system is that you’re able to move after surgery, which will decrease the need for physiotherapy.

Bleeding and infection are common complications from any surgery. You’ll need painkillers, antibiotics, and NSAIDs. The length for recovery can involve several months from the time of surgery. This involves plenty of time to allow the bone to be solid.

While there are risks to spinal fusion surgery and a long recovery process, it can help to return you to a healthy and fulfilling life where you can resume all your normal walking, swimming, and normal activities again.

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