If you are dealing with chronic pain due to a diagnosis of spinal problems, such as degenerative disk disease or spinal fracture, do not be surprised if you are referred to an orthopedic spine center, such as Town Center Orthopaedic Associates, for help.
During your visit, the orthopedic surgeon will assess your condition to determine if you would be a good candidate for a medical procedure known as spinal fusion. This procedure involves using either a synthetic or natural bone material to basically fuse vertebrae together to prevent movement that is causing pain. As effective as this procedure is, it can sound pretty scary. Here are a few of the most common concerns surrounding the spinal fusion procedure.
Does spinal fusion mean that you will not be able to bend as usual?
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the range of motion changes only a small amount in most cases after spinal fusion. When you bend and move, the spine operates as a full unit, with each individual vertebra contributing to your range of motion. Therefore, the overall range may be limited in a certain area, but not so much that it will make a dramatic difference.
Is it true the surgeon will remove a piece of your hip bone?
In the past, the main orthopedic routine during spinal fusion involved making a small incision and removing a portion of the hip bone to perform a bone graft in the spine. However, time passed has led to many new developments in the way that bone grafting is accomplished during spinal fusion. Donor bone, from cadavers or bone banks, synthetic graft bone material, and a variety of other methods are used. Therefore, anyone who is apprehensive about robbing from one area of their skeletal structure to repair another can move beyond this worry.
What should you expect after the surgery?
Once the surgery is complete, the orthopedic surgeon will place temporary structure rods to stabilize the vertebrae as they heal. Without the stability, the vertebrae are in danger of shifting, which will inhibit appropriate healing. Once the fusion has occurred, the rods can be removed and you can resume your regular activities, in most cases.
Spinal fusion may sound like a huge ordeal that will require a major change in how you live your life. However, many patients find that the only changes are for the better, their pain is decreased dramatically, and overall they are happy with the end results.