Spinal fusion surgery is an effective way to relieve chronic pain when other therapies aren’t working. However, this type of surgery isn’t a first course of treatment and not everyone is a candidate for a spinal fusion.
At The Institute for Comprehensive Spine Care, board-certified orthopedic surgeon Gbolahan Okubadejo, MD, FAAOS, performs spinal fusion surgeries when you’re not finding relief of chronic pain from underlying spine conditions.
Dr. Bo carefully evaluates your situation before he recommends any type of surgery – including a spinal fusion. Here, he outlines what spinal fusion surgery is all about and what might qualify you for having one.
Spinal fusion surgery focuses on joining two or more bones of your spine (vertebrae) together. The goal of surgery is to create one solid piece of bone that becomes stronger and more stable.
Dr. Bo is able to fuse multiple bones together using a bone graft that comes from your pelvis or another part of your body. If your bone isn’t sufficient for surgery, you might need donor bone to create the graft.
During your surgery, Dr. Bo places the graft material between your vertebrae that ultimately will heal into one solid bone. He might also need to use screws, rods, and metal plates to hold your vertebrae together as your graft heals.
Since spinal fusion surgery will limit some of the flexibility you have in your spine, Dr. Bo will try other treatments before suggesting a spinal fusion to treat conditions like:
Herniated discs describe damage to the protective discs that sit between the vertebrae of your spine. Pressure on the disc can force the gel-like center outward and compress nearby nerves. This nerve compression can often cause chronic back pain that worsens over time and can lead to disability.
Spinal fusion surgery can stabilize your spine and reduce pressure on both your remaining vertebral disc and surrounding nerves.
Degenerative disc disease also involves damage to the spinal discs. This condition develops when the outside of the protective discs tear and causes persistent and intense pain. Degenerative disc disease can also compromise the structure of the disc that leads to a herniation.
Dr. Bo can recommend a spinal fusion if physical therapy and medications are no longer effective at treating your pain and mobility issues.
Spinal stenosis is a condition where your spinal column begins to narrow. This loss of space can press on nearby nerves and lead to chronic pain and disability.
You might need surgery to remove portions of vertebrae and create more room in your spinal canal. Dr. Bo may then perform spinal fusion surgery to give your spine more stability.
Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of your spine. As this curvature worsens, surgery might be necessary to straighten the curve and preserve the integrity of your spine.
Dr. Bo can also perform a spinal fusion to keep your spine properly aligned and stable.
If you’re limited in what you can do because of spinal injuries or degenerative diseases, you can schedule a consultation with Dr. Bo online or by calling The Institute for Comprehensive Spine Care office nearest you today.