Spinal fusion treatment: an overview

Your physician may have recommended spinal fusion treatment if you have been experiencing chronic neck or back pain, or any of the other numerous complications that can arise due to spinal deterioration or deformation. In most cases, such surgery should only be considered if other, more conservative treatment measures, such as physical therapy and corticosteroid injections, have been exhausted without much improvement in the quality of life. With that in mind, you might be looking for a better idea of what exactly spinal fusion is.

What conditions can spinal fusion treatment address?

If your physician has recommended spinal fusion, you are likely experiencing the debilitating effects of a degenerative spinal condition such as:

  • Osteoarthritis — loss of cartilage surrounding a joint
  • Spinal stenosis — narrowing of the spinal canal
  • Spondylolisthesis — slippage of a vertebra in the spine
  • Scoliosis — abnormal curvature of the spine

Each of these conditions can change the structure of the spine and cause severe pain, both issues which can be addressed by re-stabilizing the spine in a spinal fusion procedure.

What does spinal fusion treatment entail?

Spinal fusion is performed in the hopes of re-stabilizing the spine, and the procedure generally consists of introducing a bone graft between two vertebrae and encouraging them to fuse together by using hardware, such as screws and rods. When the surgery is complete, there is a long recovery period, which can vary in time from a few weeks to a year or more. In a successful surgery, the graft will take hold during this time, fusing the bones together into a more stable component, although generally with a reduced range of motion.

It’s important to note that there are several complications that can arise during and after open spinal fusion procedures. In addition to the usual surgical risks — like blood loss or infection — spinal fusion patients may have to cope with a clinical failure, where the surgery doesn’t relieve symptoms. Even with successful procedures, the flexibility of the affected area of the spine can be reduced, possibly leading to the adjacent sections compensating and deteriorating due to the added stress.

An effective alternative to traditional spinal fusion

Open spine procedures have traditionally dominated the field of spine surgery. However, due to advances in medical technology and procedure, you do have a safer and effective alternative to a traditional spinal fusion. At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive stabilization procedures that accomplish the same goals as a traditional spinal fusion, but use much smaller incisions in an outpatient setting. These procedures offer less risk of infection, less muscle tearing, and a shorter recovery period.^

Contact us today to learn more about our various minimally invasive surgeries — including stabilization — and find out if you might be a potential candidate.