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Learning More About Lumbar Spinal Fusion
Permanently joining together one or more of the vertebrae in your spine is called spinal fusion. If you experience back, leg or arm pain, it may indicate that your vertebrae are rubbing against one another. Spinal fusion surgery stabilizes the spine, creates normal disc space between the bones, and helps avoid more damage to your spine.
What is spinal fusion?
The bones, discs, muscles, and ligaments of your spine work together to provide normal movement without pain. If trauma or degenerative changes occur, your vertebrae may begin rubbing together and cause significant pain or debilitation. Sometimes spinal fusion surgery is the best way to restore your health. This involves fusing bones together to eliminate motion at that section of the spine. Metal rods, screws, plates or cages are often used as part of the process.
Do I need spinal fusion surgery?
Evaluation by a qualified spine physician such as Spine Surgeon Dr. Fischer at NYU Langone Medical Center in Midtown Manhattan is important if you think you may need surgery. Spinal fusion is a final resort for treatment after other treatment methods have not been effective. This surgery eliminates motion in the affected area of your spine so that your pain decreases and mobility increases, but should only be chosen if techniques like physical therapy or exercise have failed.
How do I prepare for spinal fusion?
If you and Spine Surgeon Dr. Fischer decide together that spinal fusion is right for you, a complete physical examination and tests such as bloodwork or heart imaging may be performed. You will need to tell Spine Surgeon Dr. Fischer about all medications you are taking, as some may need to be discontinued prior to surgery. It’s also important to discuss your lifestyle with the physician, because some habits like smoking can decrease your chances for a successful spinal fusion. Most patients can expect to stay in the hospital for 2 to 3 days, so make plans for transportation and care as needed for your procedure and recovery.
What about recovery?
Spine Surgeon Dr. Fischer at NYU Langone Medical Center will provide you with complete discharge instructions. You’ll receive prescriptions for pain medications if needed and given a list of restrictions such as not lifting heavy objects, waiting to drive, and not using nicotine. You’ll be advised on allowed activities such as walking and light exercises. Some patients may need to wear a brace or use ice packs. After a period of time, Spine Surgeon Dr. Fischer will likely recommend a physical therapy program to help you fully regain your health. Most spinal fusion patients must refrain from working for several weeks as they recover, depending on the type of work you do and your specific procedure. Spine Surgeon Dr. Fischer will be there every step of the way to help you have a successful spinal fusion surgery. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.