Using vertebral fusion to treat lumbar spinal stenosis

Spinal stenosis, or narrowing of the spinal canal, is most common in the lumbar (lower back) region. This is because the lower back bears much of the weight of the upper body. As you age, the normal stress placed on the lumbar spine from daily activities like yard work, sitting hunched over your desk and playing sports causes parts of the spine to wear down and compress. This compression can cause narrowing of the spinal canal where the nerves pass through to other parts of the body, sometimes resulting in painful symptoms.

These symptoms can usually be managed using conservative treatments like pain medication, physical therapy, low-impact exercise and lifestyle changes. However, only a small amount of patients find themselves considering surgery, including a traditional open back lumbar spinal stenosis fusion to alleviate chronic pain, tingling, numbness or muscle weakness. Before you consider undergoing a highly invasive surgery, it is important to educate yourself through the information provided in the following article to learn if traditional open spine surgery is the right option for you.

When to consider lumbar spinal stenosis fusion

If chronic pain persists after several weeks or months of conservative treatment, your doctor may present surgery as an option. Sometimes the disc damage causing the stenosis is severe enough to require full disc removal in order to relieve the compression. The resulting empty space will require bone grafts and hardware to fuse the vertebrae together and stabilize the spine. These fusion procedures are extremely invasive, requiring lengthy recovery periods and a hospital stay between two to five days.

Because of these downsides, many patients find the decision to undergo an open back fusion to treat lumbar stenosis a very difficult one. You and your doctor should only seriously consider one of these procedures when:

  • Symptoms become so debilitating that you can’t perform normal day-to-day activities
  • You have exhausted all of your conservative treatment options, including epidural steroid injections
  • Your ability to walk has become severely affected
  • You have less control of bladder or bowel function which could be a sign of a rare, but extremely serious, condition known as cauda equina syndrome, that usually requires immediate surgery

A minimally invasive alternative to traditional open spine fusion

Before deciding to undergo open back lumbar spinal stenosis fusion surgery, consider the minimally invasive spine surgery available at Laser Spine Institute. The highly skilled surgeons at Laser Spine Institute perform minimally invasive stabilization procedures that are a safer and effective alternative to vertebral fusions, by using a smaller incision that reduces hospital-associated costs and carries a much shorter recovery period than traditional open back surgery.^ Contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more about the advantages of choosing our outpatient procedures over traditional open spine surgery.

As the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, Laser Spine Institute has had the privilege of helping more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck or back pain. To find out if you are a potential candidate for our lumbar spinal stenosis surgery, reach out to our dedicated team today and ask for a free review of your MRI or CT scan.* We are here to help guide you through your journey to wellness.