In an effort to strengthen your spine and reduce your back pain, your doctor may recommend spinal fusion – which is the medical fusing of two or more vertebrae together in the spinal column. This is a serious operation and is usually done only after less-invasive measures like medication, injections, physical therapy, and other conservative methods have not worked.
Spinal fusion – also called spondylodesis – may be done by replacing the disc with a bone graft or similar material, enabling the bones to heal together naturally. The vertebrae may be held in place with plates, rods, or screws, creating a single unit of bone. This small section of the spine will not be flexible anymore but should also not be painful anymore.
Advances in Spinal Fusion
This surgery was previously a highly invasive procedure, requiring a large open incision in the back that greatly exposed the spine. Advances have been extremely helpful in making this procedure far less invasive and with a much shorter recovery period afterward.
If only two or three vertebrae are being fused, the surgeon can make a relatively small incision. The physician will briefly and gently push aside the back muscles, insert the graft material where the disc was, and then fasten those vertebrae together to hold them in place while the sections fuse.
Reasons for Back Surgery
There are a number of reasons why a doctor may recommend spinal fusion surgery, including:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Herniated disc
- Spinal tumor
- Fractures of the vertebrae
- Kyphosis (outward curving of the upper back)
- Severe back pain
- Instability of the spine
Once traditional measures have been exhausted and have been proven not to work for you, a doctor may recommend spinal fusion to correct the problematic area of the back.
Although fusion surgery is widely performed for a variety of reasons, its effectiveness for relieving simple back pain is limited. Progressive bone illnesses – such as arthritis – often require additional fusions of vertebrae, either above or below the initial fusion area, in order to provide back pain relief or improved stability.
How Fusions Work
There are a variety of spinal fusion techniques, and each depends on the location of the spine that requires surgical treatment. It also depends on what needs to be corrected.
Most fusions are done with the insertion of hardware, which helps speed up the time between surgery and when the vertebrae finally grow together and become biologically fused. This also assists the grafts in properly connecting with the vertebrae.
The only time hardware is not used is when someone’s bones are so weak or brittle, the hardware would do more harm than good.
Back Doctors in Greater Cleveland
Minimally invasive spinal fusion is rapidly becoming the favored method of spine surgery, as it does not require large open incisions or the cutting of any muscle tissue.
If you or someone you know has back problems, contact Orthopaedic Associates today. Trust your back health to the best spine doctors in Ohio.
Call us at (440) 892-1440 or request an appointment online by filling out our simple form. We can help you live a more pain-free, active lifestyle once again!