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Spinal Fusion Risks – Can It Cause Depression?


Like any surgery, traditional open spinal fusion has risks that should be weighed carefully against the benefits of the surgery before a final decision is made. Due to the highly invasive nature of traditional open spinal fusion, the procedure tends to carry a fairly high risk of complications like nerve damage, infection and excessive scar tissue formation. Another condition that is not uncommon in patients who undergo traditional open spinal fusion is failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS). It is estimated that between 20 and 40 percent of patients who choose a lumbar or cervical open spinal fusion experience some form of FBSS during the recovery process. FBSS is a broad term used to describe any number of physical or mental problems that arise after an unsuccessful spine surgery.

The psychological effects of FBSS – weighing spinal fusion risks

It may seem odd that symptoms like depression, anxiety and insomnia could potentially present themselves after surgery, since surgery is often viewed as a positive step toward addressing a physical problem. However, in the case of FBSS, many patients find themselves so disappointed and frustrated with the fact that the surgery was not completely effective that they can easily lapse into deteriorated mental states, not to mention the physical pain and other symptoms they may be experiencing as a result of the failed surgery. FBSS can cause depression and isolation by preventing patients from:

  • Becoming active again after surgery
  • Exercising, driving and having sex
  • Doing fun activities with family and friends
  • Resuming daily tasks like gardening
  • Returning to work

How to reduce the risk of FBSS & depression

Spinal fusion risks like FBSS and depression can be lowered by making sure you get an accurate diagnosis in the first place and consulting with multiple spine specialists to ensure that spinal fusion is in fact the right treatment choice for you at this time. Traditional open spinal fusion risks can also be avoided by undergoing a less invasive surgery, like one of the minimally invasive spine stabilization procedures offered at Laser Spine Institute. Our innovative, outpatient procedures are performed using advanced technology and are a more effective alternative to traditional open spinal fusion. To find out if you are a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute and ask for a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan.

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