As we age, so does our spine. Because of this, many people develop back pain and other serious conditions which, in many cases, lead to a need for surgery. Luckily, recent advancements in spine medicine allow people of all ages to live more active and healthy lifestyles longer than ever before. A spinal fusion is one of many critical surgeries that gives people a chance to live that lifestyle.
Spinal fusion surgery involves stabilizing and fusing two or more vertebrae in the spine to treat various spinal conditions. For those suffering from spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, herniated discs, and/or scoliosis, a spinal fusion can be a chance at a life without thinking about back pain. In addition to improving stability and mobility, spinal fusions can reduce pain and correct deformities.
Understanding what to expect when considering a spine surgery is essential for recovery. A spinal fusion is typically performed under general anesthesia and requires a two-to-four-day hospital stay afterward. During surgery, a bone graft is placed between the affected vertebrae. The spine may be immobilized and fused using hardware such as screws, rods, or plates. The recovery time following a spinal fusion depends on the individual.
Patients will work with a physical or occupational therapist immediately following surgery to learn the safest way to align the spine correctly while recovering. Following surgery, you must find a balance between moving and resting. In addition to strengthening your back muscles that support your spine, gentle movement promotes healing of your vertebrae. Adding frequent walking to your day is a great way to stay active without risking your spine's health.
While your fusion heals and your muscles strengthen, your body will need time to recover. Rest and gentle stretching will be the first steps in your recovery. Every person’s next steps are unique to them so be sure to follow your care teams’ instructions and rehabilitation protocols for the best recovery and outcomes.
The Spine Clinic of Oklahoma City specializes in optimizing your spine health with total spine care. Our team of experts can help you and your loved ones get back to an active lifestyle.
AUTHOR: Dr. Brett Braly is a board-certified fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in spinal surgery. Dr. Braly is a leading advocate for minimally invasive techniques in spine surgery. Dr. Braly is named in the top “20 under 40” best spine surgeons by the North American Spine Society.