Also called arthrodesis, spinal fusion joins together two vertebrae in either the neck or back. This permanently stops movement between them.
When you come to a Dignity Health facility for spinal fusion, our goal will be to improve back and neck pain while restoring functionality to the affected area.
Why is Spinal Fusion Performed?
Spinal fusion may be an option if nonsurgical treatments, such as physical therapy, back braces and medications, haven’t worked. Your doctor may recommend spinal fusion if you have chronic pain and disability that is the result of:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Scoliosis or kyphosis
- Spinal infections
- Spinal stenosis or narrowing
- Spinal tumors
- Vertebral fractures
What You Should Expect
Spinal fusion can be performed at Dignity Health as a minimally invasive surgery with a few small incisions, or an open procedure with a larger incision. Your surgeon will use a bone graft to join two vertebrae, which can be synthetic or come from your own body (autologous). Your body has the ability to grow new bone around the graft over several months.
You will spend about three to four days in the hospital after surgery, with some people also needing time in an acute rehabilitation center. This is because it takes time for your body to form enough bone around the graft to permanently fuse your vertebrae. As a result, you may need to wear a neck or back brace for several weeks after surgery. Physical therapy will also be part of your recovery, since you will learn how to move, walk, sit and stand in ways that protect your spine. Full recovery may take up to a year.
How Your Everyday Life May Be Different
After spinal fusion, most people have less pain and more strength in their backs, although you may lose some flexibility. Spinal fusion also will not safeguard against future spine problems. You can protect your spine and avoid more problems by:
- Avoiding repetitive movements, such as gardening, that put stress on your neck or back
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Practicing good posture
- Strengthening your neck and back muscles with recommended exercises
- Using proper body mechanics when lifting heavy objects
Don’t live with back or neck pain longer than you have to. If your discomfort is severe and you’ve exhausted all other noninvasive options, trust Dignity Health to perform a spinal fusion. To find out if you’re an ideal candidate, Find a Doctor near you.
Lessen your back pain levels by visiting a Dignity Health location for a spinal fusion in the Bay Area, including San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Redwood City.