Before a doctor can begin treating back pain, he or she may do tests to diagnose what is causing your problem. Unless you are totally immobilized from a back injury, your doctor probably will test your range of motion and nerve function and touch your body to locate the area of discomfort.
Blood and urine tests may be done to be sure the pain is not caused by an infection or other systemic problem. X-rays are useful in pinpointing broken bones or other skeletal defects. To analyze soft-tissue damage...
Bone is taken from the pelvic bone or from a bone bank. The bone is used to make a bridge between vertebrae that are next to each other.
This bone graft helps new bone grow.
are usually used to hold the vertebrae together until new bone grows between
What To Expect After Surgery
You will need to be watched in the
hospital for a few days after surgery.
Bed rest is
not usually needed while you recover at home.
doctor may recommend that you wear a back brace while you recover.
Rehabilitation can take a long time. It includes walking, riding a
stationary bike, swimming, and similar activities.
Why It Is Done
Spinal fusion may be done by itself
or along with surgery to remove bone and tissue that are narrowing the spinal canal and squeezing the spinal cord and/or the spinal nerves.
may be done as a follow-up after surgery that was done to
problems such as spinal stenosis,
herniated discs, injuries, infection, and tumors.
Spinal fusion was first used to treat fractures or other problems. It is now also used to treat age-related spinal problems and spinal stenosis.
How Well It Works
fusion is often needed to keep the spine stable after injury,
infection, or a tumor.
But there is not a lot of research about how well it works for other spinal problems. In general, studies do not show a clear difference between spinal fusion and intense
rehabilitation for treating chronic low back pain from degenerative changes in the spine.1
As you decide about having spinal fusion, talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks. The surgery costs a lot and has serious risks. Although this type of surgery is common, there is no
guarantee it will work to relieve your pain.
The risks of this surgery depend on your age and overall health, what you're having the surgery for, and the type of
procedure you have.
Pain at the bone graft
Failure of the fusion, breakage of metal
implants, or both.
Chou R, et al. (2009). Interventional therapies, surgery and interdisciplinary rehabilitation for low back pain: An evidence-based clinical practice guideline from the American Pain Society. Spine, 34(10): 1066–1077.
Primary Medical Reviewer
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
February 13, 2012
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
February 13, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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