Spinal fusion risks — can it cause depression?

Many people experience apprehension when faced with the decision to undergo a spinal fusion surgery. The idea of a spine fusion can be intimidating if you do not know what the procedure entails and if you feel like you are forced into the surgery as a last option to pain relief.

Our goal at Laser Spine Institute is to demystify spine care by educating our patients about the treatment options available to them and what is involved in each procedure. We believe that you should have the most valued opinion about your spine care options. If you are considering a spine fusion to help alleviate your chronic neck or back pain, we encourage you to research the advantages and risks of the surgery and make an informed decision about your health care needs.

Risks associated with Spinal Fusion surgery

Like any surgery, traditional open back fusion comes with risks that should be considered before agreeing to the procedure. 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.

At Laser Spine Institute, we sought to lower these risks by offering an effective alternative to traditional open back fusion — our minimally invasive spinal fusion surgery. Instead of moving blood vessels and cutting the muscles to get to the vertebrae in the spine, our minimally invasive spinal fusion uses advanced techniques and state of the art equipment to avoid disrupting the surrounding blood vessels and muscles. This means that you will have a lower risk of complication, less scarring, and a shorter recovery time.^

Another risk that patients might experience with traditional open back spinal fusion is called Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS). FBSS is a broad term used to describe any number of physical or mental problems that arise after an unsuccessful spine surgery. It is estimated that between 20 and 40 percent of patients who choose a traditional lumbar or cervical open spinal fusion experience some form of FBSS during the recovery process.

Psychological effects of Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS)

While depression and other mental problems are not a direct result of a failed back surgery, they can often be experienced in correlation with FBSS. 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. Often, traditional open back fusion is considered a “last hope” for patients who suffer from chronic neck or back pain. Many patients in this situation have experienced a decrease in quality of life because of the pain, and the realization that their “last hope” solution didn’t result in any pain relief takes a huge psychological toll on patients.

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

At Laser Spine Institute, our minimally invasive spinal fusion aims to decrease the risk of infection and FBSS. In the last 10 years, we have helped over 75,000 patients find relief from chronic pain. Our overall patient satisfaction score is 98^, and our infection rate is only 0.41 percent^ (national average for traditional open back or open neck surgery is up to 19 percent. Joshi, AP 2014.). Everything we do is centered around offering our patients the best care to fit your needs and lifestyle. We are confident that we can help you ease your chronic pain and take back your life.

How to reduce the risk of Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS) and depression

Spinal fusion risks like FBSS and depression can be lowered making sure you get an accurate diagnosis of your spine condition from two or more health care professionals. Getting a second opinion is usually a good idea when it comes to making a big decision about your health care like undergoing spine surgery.

Additionally, we encourage you to research all of your available options for spine care before deciding on a treatment plan. If you have any questions about treatment options, our care team is happy to assist you in finding the right plan for your needs. If you are interested in learning more about our minimally invasive spine fusion surgery, one of our Spine Care Consultants can help you schedule a review of your MRI and determine your candidacy for one of our minimally invasive surgeries. It’s time for you to STAND TALL* and take back your life.