5 Myths and Facts About Spinal Fusion

When it comes to your spine, you’re right to be cautious about having any work done on it. Sometimes, however, spinal problems that cause severe pain and limited movement require medical intervention for you to live your life normally.

At Acadiana Neurosurgery in Lafayette, Louisiana, we specialize in spinal treatments, and our number one goal is to help you regain pain-free movement.

To that end, we offer several pain-relieving spinal procedures, including spinal fusions. As you consider your options, we’ve pulled together five myths and facts about spinal fusions that may help with your decision.

  1. Spinal fusions are only for severe back injuries

While spinal fusions are sometimes used to correct fractures along your spine, we also use this technique to resolve many other painful back conditions, including:

The goal of a spinal fusion is to prevent abutting vertebrae from moving against one another, irritating the nerves in the area, and many conditions can lead to this painful friction.

  1. Spinal fusions cause immobility

While you won’t be joining the US gymnastics team anytime soon, a spinal fusion doesn’t “freeze” your spine entirely. Your spine is made up of 33 vertebrae and, together, they provide you with a fairly wide range of motion. When we fuse together two vertebrae, you’ll still enjoy considerable movement — the immobility is localized to just the vertebrae that are fused together.

It’s also worth noting that the pain that brought you to this point has probably greatly diminished your movement, which means a spinal fusion will likely help you regain mobility.

  1. A spinal fusion isn’t 100% guaranteed

This statement is true. While the results of spinal fusions are good, they aren’t 100%. Of those who undergo a spinal fusion, around 80% experience significant relief from their pain, while the remaining 20% feel little to no difference. The location of your spinal fusion has a significant impact on these results — the best results are fusing at your L5-S1 level (L is lumbar, S is sacrum, and together it’s the lumbosacral joint).

  1. Spinal fusion is the last resort

When we turn to a spinal fusion, our goal is to stop your pain by limiting any friction in the area that may be irritating your nerves. Leading up to a spinal fusion, we use several techniques before resorting to surgery, such as ablations, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medications.

While we always look for nonsurgical options first, we hesitate to call a spinal fusion a last resort. We work with every patient to find the treatment that will best restore pain-free movement, and a spinal fusion is one such treatment.

In the unlikely event that your spinal fusion proves ineffective, rest assured that we continue to work with you until your problem is resolved to your satisfaction.

  1. There’s a lengthy recovery after a spinal fusion

Any time you have surgery, you should allow time for your body to heal. The same is true of a spinal fusion. The primary goal of your recovery is to get your vertebrae to fuse correctly, which can take three to six months to complete. That means that you’ll need to limit your movements, especially lifting, bending, and twisting.

During this time, you’ll undergo physical therapy, which will help your recovery enormously. A physical therapist helps you strengthen your back and gives you at-home exercises to help your spine recover gradually and safely.

Should your recovery progress smoothly, you’ll be free to participate in more strenuous activities after six months.

So, to answer this question, it depends on what your definition of “lengthy” is. If you’ve been a prisoner of debilitating back pain for years, six months hardly seems like a long time if the result is freedom from suffering.

If you have more questions about spinal fusion surgery, we invite you to call us at Acadiana Neurosurgery, or set up a consultation using the online booking tool.






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