5 Ways To Avoid Spinal Fusion Surgery

What is spinal fusion surgery?

Spinal fusion surgery is a medical procedure whereby two or more spinal vertebrae are fused together so that they can heal and become one single bone. This procedure eliminates motion between the two vertebrae and prevents the stretching of nerves and surrounding ligamen. 

It involves the use of a bone graft that is cut out from a patient’s pelvis or alternatively a synthetic bone graft is used. Metal plates, screws, and rods are sometimes used to hold the two spinal vertebrae together while the bone graft heals. This surgical procedure improves stability and corrects deformities. 

How long does it take to recover from the surgery?

Usually, it takes about 4 to 6 months to recover from the surgery. Although the healing process of all individuals differs and there are several factors that can influence recovery. Diets, weight, age, and the lifestyle of the patient go a long way in determining how fast the patient would recover from the surgery. 

Patients are advised to undergo several physical therapy activities (such as rehabilitation), avoid strenuous activities, and maintain a very healthy diet after the surgery to enhance the recovery process. 

What to expect after spinal fusion surgery 

Just like any other spinal surgery, spinal fusion surgery comes with several risks; a nerve could get damaged, there could be infection, bleeding, blood clots, poor wound healing or pain at the pelvis area where the bone graft was harvested, loss of bowel or bladder control may occur too. 

Spinal fusions can also put pressure on the bones that are above and below the fusion, which can cause them to break down and degenerate more quickly. Subsequently, this leads to an increased likelihood of further surgery in the nearest future. 

Spinal fusion is a surgery that risks leaving patients in pain or needing the procedure again in the future.

The only time you should think of undergoing spinal fusion surgery is when you know that you are capable of taking a long time from work without your finances being affected, say 4 to 6 months. Or you have good insurance that can cater to you and your family. 

If you can not confidently boast of any of the above then it is advisable for you to avoid spinal fusion surgery. 

5 tips that could help you avoid spinal fusion surgery and relieve you of your back pain 

  1. Engaging in exercises: so many people actually believe that taking enough rest and avoiding physical activities are the best ways to care for back pain. The truth is that while these methods can help prevent you from overstressing your spine, engaging in exercises can efficiently strengthen the muscles in your spine. Equally, exercises help your heart to pump blood adequately, this improves circulation to better distribute nutrients through the body. You can try any of these simple exercises in your home; a) lie on your back, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor or on your bed. Gently lift your buttocks a few inches off the floor toward the ceiling. Do this 10 times for three sets, ensure you do this every morning. b) lie on your back and hug your knees to your chest. Gently roll side to side just a few inches to massage and stretch your lumbar back area. c) from a standing position, bend at the waist with your fingers reaching for the floor. Go only as far as your body naturally permits. Now just hang there – and breathe naturally for one minute. With each breath, let your back and legs relax and stretch. Repeat three times.
  2. Physical therapy: this is quite similar to exercises being that it also promotes muscle development, but physical therapy specifically targets the problem area(s) of your back. Physical therapy greatly works to relieve compression or pressure in your spine area. However, before you engage in physical therapy, ensure you talk to your doctor about the specific ones that correspond with your condition. To ease your back pain, always make sure you engage in low-impact physical therapy exercises every day. 
  3. Diet/Weight Loss: an apple a day keeps the doctor away, they say, a healthy diet is very crucial and it plays a big role in the health of your spine. Consumption of junk food or foods that are high in sugar, cholesterol, or fat (like chocolates, soda drinks, fast foods, etc) can contribute to the development of inflammation in your spine, which in turn results in severe pain and compression in your spine area. A healthy diet is really beneficial, it helps you maintain a healthy weight, which ensures you don’t overstress your spine.
  4. Spinal Manipulation: this can help realign your spine if it happens that your back pain is a result of an alignment issue. The spinal manipulation would help you to avoid spinal fusion surgery. If your back pain is a result of a fracture caused during an accident, spinal manipulation can’t help in this case but if it’s a disc alignment issue then you can as well result in undergoing spinal manipulation. 
  5. Injections: injections are a little much easier and more accessible than all the options stated above. Injections can be very helpful at calming pain from an irritated or compressed nerve. However, it is advisable that you consult with your doctor to know the exact type of pain injection that would work to ease your condition. Although they won’t provide full relief, corticosteroid injections can provide short-term and some long-term relief depending on the cause of your pain.

It is best to avoid spinal fusion surgery and there are a few alternatives to it. The decision to consider spinal surgery should always come after trying non-surgical options.

Some medical alternatives to spinal fusion surgery, intradiscal electrothermal coagulation (or annuloplasty), disc replacement surgery which involves replacing the painful disc in the spine with an artificial disc, posterior dynamic stabilization, and disc regeneration.

It is widely perceived that undergoing spinal fusion surgery when you are young can lead to further health problems in your spine areas as you grow older. This is because undergoing a spinal fusion surgery may be correlated with experiencing accelerated degeneration of the joints above or below the area where the fusion took place as earlier stated. 

This implies that the longer you live after undergoing spinal fusion surgery, the higher your chances are to experience related health problems in the future. 

Undergoing this surgery can also lead to other health issues such as suffering from chronic pain of the neck or back. There is also the rare possibility that another joint will require an operation and trigger the same negative physical response in the next joint as well, creating a domino effect that can leave a person in a great deal of pain.

Overall, it is more advisable to avoid spinal fusion surgery and opt for safer options. These alternatives can lead to you getting better care, relieving your back pain, and having a better quality of life. 

Get in touch with a medical professional and discuss your options today. Health is wealth!