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Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure performed to permanently connect two or more vertebrae in the spine in order to improve stability, correct a deformity or treat severe back pain.
During spine fusion surgery, two or more vertebrae are joined into one single structure without any space between them. The aim is to stop movement between the two bones and hence eliminate back pain. Once the bones are fused, they stop moving and this keeps you from stretching nearby nerves, ligaments, and muscles that may have caused discomfort initially.
Why is it done?
Your doctor may recommend spinal fusion when medications and physical therapy have failed to treat severe back pain and if the exact reason for the pain is known to the doctor. The surgery can be a solution to the following conditions:
The whole procedure may take several hours.
Like any other surgical procedure, spinal fusion has certain risks involved like:
By means of spine fusion surgery, the working of your spine will be altered as stress from the fused vertebrae is shifted to other areas of the spine. This extra stress may cause more wear and tear in the vertebrae on either side of the fusion joint. This might lead to further damage and pain in the spinal column.
Your doctor will advise you on new ways to move, since your flexibility may be limited post surgery.
After leaving the hospital you may need to wear a brace to support your spine. The complete fusing of bone may take up to six weeks or longer depending on the various health conditions of the patient. Full recovery from spinal fusion will require six to twelve months.