All you need to know about Spinal Fusion
When we are dealing with back pain, there are cases when doctors will recommend surgery for alleviating the constant discomfort. One of these surgeries is the Spinal Fusion, a major surgery done on the spinal cord that lasts for hours, with the purpose of diminishing the pain of the patient. Is a surgery the right thing to do? Well, when it comes to surgeries, regardless of their type, there are always risks involved. But, considering that it is your spine that will be the one operated, the risks are higher. There are many things that can go wrong, complicating your condition during spinal fusion procedure. Thus, you need to know everything about this surgery before taking a decision, especially the risks involved.
- When will a doctor decide that spinal fusion is needed?
As mentioned earlier, back fusion may be recommended in the case of patients that have a moving spine segment that is causing them pain. So, the purpose of this surgery is to remove the cause of pain in the spine. In order to stop the motion of the vertebrae that are moving and uncomfortable, during the surgery, two or more spine will be connected, so that they will have more stability and stop being painful, also correcting any spine deformities, if they exist. A doctor may recommend this surgery in case your spine has broken vertebrae. Of course, not in all cases of broken vertebrae a surgery may be required, as they can also heal by themselves. Back fusion is usually recommended when the broken vertebra is making the entire spine unstable. According to the previous mentions, this surgery can also be done in the case of spine deformities, like scoliosis, the case of a spine that is curved sideways, or kyphosis, a rounding of the upper spine that is abnormal.
Also, in case of spinal weaknesses or instability, the doctor will take the surgery into account. When there is an abnormal motion between two of the vertebrae, your spine may become unstable. Such instability is usually a characteristic of spine arthritis, being a side effect of this condition. To restore the stability of the spine, back fusion is perform to remediate the defect of the vertebrae that are causing the trouble. Spondylolisthesis is another condition that doctors may want to correct through surgery. In the case of this illness, one vertebra will end up slipping onto another, causing pressure on the spinal nerves. This will trigger pain and even numbness and discomfort in the lower limbs. Last, but not least, back fusion may also be performed in the case of a herniated disk, the removal of the damaged disk destabilizing the spine, which will need to be repaired through surgery.
- What are the expected results?
The spinal fusion surgery is used in various cases of spinal deformities, fractures, and instability. Still, when the cause behind back and neck pain is not known for sure, the results are uncertain and studies show that the surgery may not solve the problem. There are many cases in which this surgery will not do more than what regular non-invasive treatments for back pain will do, ending up to be a procedure that was done unnecessary. Diagnosing a back pain and finding out what causes it can be an extremely challenging task, even for experienced doctors. Even when a herniated disc or bone spurs do appear on X-rays, it doesn’t always mean that the pain will do away once these problems are treated. The results appearing on the images are not always the ones that actually cause the pain and discomfort in your spine. Also, after the surgery, a patient may feel immediate improvements in his back condition, the pain being diminished and discomfort reduced. But, unfortunately, this may not last for too long, because the lack of pain after the surgery may turn into more pain than before the surgery in the future. This happens because uniting two spine sections into one fragment to reduce their movement will create in time stress accumulation in the area and strain on the fused segment. Thus, the rate at which these areas will start degenerating can be accelerated, which means that you may suffer from further surgery in time.
- What you can expect to happen, as a patient?
First of all, because it is a lengthy, complicated, and sensitive procedure, you will be under general anesthesia during the surgery, so you will not hear or feel anything. There are several techniques applied when performing the surgery, the method chosen by your doctor depending on the location of the damaged vertebrae and the reason you needed the procedure in the first place. But, regardless of chosen method, there are standard steps that are followed in every case. The surgery will start with an incision. The incision can be made directly on your spine, in the neck of back area, it can be done on one side of the spine, or it can be done on your front part of the neck or stomach, to access the spine this way. To make the fusion between two vertebrae, the doctor will use bone grafts, which are usually taken from other parts of your body, like the pelvis, to make sure that your body will accept them. So you will have another small incision, above your pelvic bone this time, from where the doctor will sample a bone fragment, closing it immediately once the procedure is done. This bone fragment will be placed in between your damaged vertebrae, a metal plate and a few screws, or rods, will be used to secure the fragments in place, allowing the spine to heal where the bone grafts where positioned. There are cases in which the bone graft will be replaced by particular substances, which promote the growth of bone in the area, also speeding the fusion and healing process.
Once the surgery is completed, you will be hospitalized for two or three days, depending on how you feel. It is also possible to feel some discomfort and even pain around the area where the surgery was perform, but these symptoms are usually managed very well with proper medication. But, whether you will feel post-surgery pain depends very much on the location where the surgery was performed on your spine. After you are released from the hospital, you will need to keep an eye on the area, to notice any signs of infection. They can be swelling, redness, and tenderness felt in the location where the surgery took place. Other signs include drainages from the wound, chills that will make you shake or high fever that is above 100 F or 38 C. The healing process will take several months, until the spine will eventually get properly aligned. For this, the doctor will recommend the wearing of special braces, to help you support your spine better. Also, physiotherapy is another method to make sure that while you move, stand, and sit, your spine will keep a correct posture.
- What are the risks?
A back fusion is usually very expensive and it involves a lot of risks, so you need to weight all your options before making such a choice. Of course, it is not a surgery that is extremely rare, as it is performed quite often, but there are no guarantees that you won’t feel any pain in the future. As you found out earlier as well, pain can come back and be even worse than before, and there are chances for you to go through another surgery, or even more. Let us look closer at the risks involved with back fusion. The complications that may appear after the surgery can be as following:
- Infection in the organism;
- The wound can heal poorly and create constant discomfort;
- The area can bleed;
- Blood clots can be formed;
- During the surgery, there are high risks for your blood vessels and nerves to get damaged around the spine, which will also cause pain and discomfort after the surgery;
And you will also feel pain in the area from where the bone graft is extracted for the fusion, since the area will also suffer an incision and tissue sampling, resulting another wound that needs to heal inside the body;
These are risks that can happen in the immediate period of the surgery, but there are some that will only appear as time passes by. The surgery will repair the vertebrae that are causing you damage, but the fusion will just move the stress from this area of your spine to adjacent areas. This happens because after the surgery, your spine will move differently, since the vertebrae are moving like a bigger fragment and not individually. This translates are more accelerated wear and tear in the joints of the vertebrae found on each side of the fusion, which will get damaged in time and cause further discomfort and pain that can end up being another chronic problem of your spine. Knowing all the possible complication and risks involved many people have mixed feelings. On one hand potential of the reduction in back pain , but on the other hand many terrifying stories from dissatisfied patients for whom spinal surgery turned out a terrible decision and without diminishing pain.
Often patients feel that their doctors encourage them to undergo the spinal fusion procedure and they feel uneasy to say no. There are some methods that that desperate back pain sufferers try to postpone spinal fusion by a method that they read or heard about in the news In an attempt to find the way to improve their chronic condition they are willing to try virtually anything. As makers of the Zero Compression Back Brace we are very proud to introduce a simple, safe and super effective device that can allow to postpone of more than half risky spinal fusion operations. ZCBB provides an immediate improvement in the back pain condition often sufficient enough to convince some to postpone into a distant future the most important back procedure in their lives. This brace device due to its elaborate design allows to keep back pain in check by putting the spine in correct position, and as a result allows to relieve the constant pressure on the spine nerves. We strongly encourage everyone thinking of a back procedure giving Zero Compression Back Brace a chance. This ultra-light device that wears as a back brace at a very low price considering what it does may be able to change your life.