In the right situation, a spinal fusion operation can be very helpful for patients suffering from back pain or disc issues. However, like any surgery, the operation comes with some risks. Today, we take a closer look at some of the benefits and drawbacks of a spinal fusion operation to help you understand if it might be an option worth pursuing.
The Benefits Of Spinal Fusion
Let’s start by looking at the benefits of spinal fusion.
1. Pain Relief – The most obvious benefit of a spinal fusion procedure is that it can provide pain relief for individuals who are not responding well to conservative care.
2. Stability – Spinal fusion procedures are also recommended for individuals who have unstable spines. Spinal instability can lead to pain and discomfort, but it can also leave you are a higher risk for issues like fractures or soft tissue compression. A fusion procedure helps to strengthen and stabilize the spine.
3. Return To Activities – For some people with shifted discs, movement is too painful to participate in activities they used to enjoy. A spinal fusion operation can help you regain independence and return to some physical activities that you couldn’t when your spine was hurting.
4. Treats a Range of Conditions – Although it is not the first treatment method pursued for many conditions, a spinal fusion operation can be beneficial for a lot of different issues. Spinal fusion operations can help address vertebral fractures, spinal stenosis, scoliosis and shifted discs.
5. High Rates of Success – The likelihood of having a successful operation varies based on why the fusion is being performed, but as a whole, spinal fusion has a very high rate of success.
Spinal Fusion Risks and Drawbacks
There aren’t many drawbacks and risks that are unique to a spinal fusion operation, but here are some worth mentioning.
1. Limited Mobility – In some instances where pain is severely limiting you mobility, a spinal fusion operation may actually be able to increase your mobility. In other cases, because two vertebral sections are being fused together, that section of your spine becomes less flexible. Most people would trade a bit of flexibility in a section of their spine if it means they’ll have less or no pain.
2. Complications – Like any procedure, there are potential complications, like bleeding, nerve damage or issues with the anesthesia. Surgeons work hard to control and limit these surgical complications.
3. Lingering Pain – Spinal fusion isn’t guaranteed to relieve all of your pain. In patients with scoliosis or another spinal curvature disorder, the procedure may help to prevent future curving, but it may not be able to fix all of your pain. There is a chance that you’ll still have some pain and discomfort after spinal fusion.
For more information about spinal fusion, or to talk to a specialist about your back pain, reach out to Dr. Chang’s clinic today.