As you age, lower back pain is often part of the equation. In fact, about 80% of adults will experience this type of pain at some point in their lives, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders. However, not all spinal pain is simply caused by wear and tear. Some adults will experiencing the narrowing of the spine, which squeezes the spinal cord and nerves. This is why many back specialists recommend lumbar spinal fusion surgery.
What is lumbar spinal fusion surgery?
Lumbar spinal fusion surgery involves fusing lower back vertebrae. There are various methods for this surgery, and your surgeon will choose which is best for you. Your surgeon may choose to take a piece of bone from your pelvis or a bone bank, using this graft to bridge the vertebrae until new bones form. Similarly, they may choose to use metal implants to hold the vertebrae in place until the bones grow.
Why would patients have this surgery?
Other than treating spinal narrowing, a surgeon may recommend this procedure to follow spinal injuries, herniated discs, tumors, and infection. This surgery can keep the spine more stable than it would be otherwise.
What can I expect from my surgery?
Your spinal surgeon will talk you through the surgical procedure and what to expect once you wake up. If your surgery is successful, your doctor will have specific instructions for recovery. You will likely need to remain in the hospital for a few days after, and your doctor may recommend that you wear a brace while your back recovers. You can also talk through your physical rehabilitation options, which may include physical therapy.
Are there any risks involved?
Your surgeon will determine your specific risks based on your age and health, so it’s important to trust their knowledge first. Some of the common risks of lumbar spine surgery include:
- Failure of the fusion
- Pain at the surgical and graft areas
- Nerve injury
- Rejection of the graft
- Blood clots
- Damage to metal implants
If your surgeon thinks fusing lower back vertebrae is the best course of action, they will inform you of all of the procedural details and risks involved. Just be sure to listen to their recovery instructions and follow your rehabilitation program closely. This will help you recover quickly and get back to enjoying life.