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Spinal Fusion

Spinal Fusion Surgery in Clearwater

Surgical Procedure for Back Pain

What is a Spinal Fusion Surgery? 

The goal of spinal fusion is to stop the motion caused by segmental instability and prevent back pain.

In this procedure, the surgeon fills the space left after the disc is removed with a block of bone called a bone graft. This graft may be taken from your pelvis, or it may be obtained from a bone bank. Bone graft from a bone bank is given by organ donors and stored under sterile conditions until it is needed for operations such as spinal fusion. The bone goes through a rigorous testing procedure, similar to a blood transfusion. This is in order to reduce the risk of passing on diseases, such as AIDS or hepatitis, to the recipient.

Placing a bone graft between two or more vertebrae causes the vertebrae to grow together, or fuse. If your back or neck pain is caused by segmental instability, a spinal fusion may also be recommended even if you do not have radiculopathy.

When doing a spinal fusion, the bone graft may simply be wedged in tight between the vertebrae, which holds the graft in place. In recent years, there has been an increase in the use of metal plates, pedicle (ped-i-cul) screws, and rods to try to improve the success of the fusion. Many different types of metal implants are used, and all of them try to hold the vertebrae in position while the fusion heals. Bone heals best when it is held still, without motion between the pieces trying to heal together. The healing of a fusion is no different than healing a fractured bone, such as a broken arm. In particular, the cervical spine is a difficult part of the body to hold still.

Call (727) 300-2537 or contact us online to learn more about whether spinal fusion surgery in Clearwater can help you. 

Is a Spinal Fusion Right for Me?

Although only your doctor can tell you if a Spinal Fusion is the right treatment plan for you, you might be a qualifying candidate if:

  • You are experiencing pain from degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, fractures, tumors, or spondylosis.
  • You have tried other treatment options like (but not limited to) physical therapy, bracing, or spinal injections without success.
  • Your pain is caused by movement or instability in a single (or more if you are a candidate for a multilevel fusion) vertebral segment.
  • The natural curvature of your spine is too flat or overly curved and is causing pain that has not responded to non-surgical therapies.

Our team at Comprehensive Spine Institute can assess your specific situation and determine whether spinal fusion surgery is the best treatment for your pain. 

When Is Spinal Fusion Surgery Necessary?

Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure used to join two or more vertebrae in the spine permanently. It is considered necessary in various situations to treat spinal conditions or alleviate symptoms when conservative treatments have been unsuccessful. Here are some common reasons when spinal fusion may be necessary:

  • Spinal Instability: Fusion is often performed to stabilize the spine when there is excessive movement between vertebrae, which can result from conditions like spondylolisthesis, degenerative disc disease, or spinal fractures.
  • Scoliosis: In cases of severe scoliosis, where the curvature of the spine is progressing rapidly or causing severe pain, fusion may be recommended to correct and stabilize the spine.
  • Herniated Discs: When non-surgical treatments fail to relieve symptoms of a herniated disc, spinal fusion may be considered to provide stability and alleviate pain.
  • Spinal Tumors: Fusion may be necessary as part of treatment for spinal tumors to stabilize the spine, remove tumor tissue, or support other surgical interventions.
  • Spinal Deformities: Conditions like kyphosis, where the spine has an abnormal forward curvature, may require fusion to correct the deformity and maintain proper alignment.
  • Fractures: Severe fractures or spinal trauma may necessitate fusion to stabilize the spine and prevent further damage.
  • Failed Previous Surgery: In some cases, if a previous spinal surgery has not achieved the desired results or has led to complications, fusion may be recommended as a revision surgery.

It's important to note that spinal fusion is a major surgical procedure with potential risks and long recovery times. Therefore, it is typically considered after conservative treatments like physical therapy, medications, and injections have been exhausted and when the benefits of fusion are expected to outweigh the risks. The decision to undergo spinal fusion should be made in consultation with our Clearwater orthopedic surgeon, taking into account the specific diagnosis, individual health, and treatment goals.

What To Expect 6 Months After Spinal Fusion Surgery

Six months after spinal fusion surgery, you can expect to experience several changes and improvements in your condition. Keep in mind that everyone's spine treatment journey is different. However, here are some general expectations:

  • Healing and fusion progress: By this time, the bones in your spine should be well on their way to fusing together. The fusion process typically takes several months to a year or longer, and at the six-month mark, you should notice significant progress in this regard. X-rays or other imaging tests may be conducted to assess the fusion progress.
  • Reduced pain and discomfort: Spinal fusion surgery aims to stabilize the spine and alleviate pain caused by spinal conditions or injuries. At the six-month mark, you should experience a reduction in pain and discomfort compared to the pre-surgery period. However, it's important to note that everyone's healing process is different, and some residual pain or discomfort may still be present.
  • Improved mobility and functionality: As the healing progresses and the spine becomes more stable, you should notice improvements in your mobility and functionality. You may find it easier to perform daily activities and experience increased range of motion. Physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises can help in regaining strength and flexibility.
  • Gradual return to normal activities: Depending on your specific condition and the advice of your healthcare team, you may gradually resume normal activities and exercise routines. It's important to follow the guidelines provided by your surgeon and physical therapist to ensure a safe and successful recovery.
  • Continued healing and progress: While significant improvements are expected at the six-month mark, it's important to remember that the healing process can continue for several months or even up to a year after spinal fusion surgery. It's crucial to maintain a healthy lifestyle, follow post-surgery instructions, and attend any recommended follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider.

It's important to note that the specifics of your recovery may vary based on individual factors such as the type of surgery, the extent of the spinal fusion, your overall health, and any other pre-existing conditions. Your Clearwater spinal fusion surgeon will provide you with personalized information and guidance regarding your recovery timeline and expectations. 

Call (727) 300-2537 or contact us online to discuss whether spinal fusion surgery is a viable option to treat your pain. 

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