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Is spinal fusion surgery right for you? The answer to this question truly depends on your current quality of life, your condition, and your treatment goals. While there’s no right or wrong answer here, and spinal fusion can be life-changing (in a good way), it is also associated with several risks and complications. Spinal fusion surgery recovery is also a process, so talking with your Doctor to time your surgery wisely is essential.

Some unintended risks or complications associated with a spinal fusion can be neurological problems, adjacent segment disease, or a non-union of the fused segments.  But even in these cases, the benefits of spinal fusion may outweigh the risks.

For a more complete picture, and to discuss your individual risk factors, we encourage you to contact us at Desert Spine and Scoliosis Center. Depending on your condition and your needs, you may be able to manage pain holistically via nonsurgical methods. Or, you may be a good candidate for other surgical interventions, like minimally invasive spine surgery, or even a newer form of ultra minimally invasive spine surgery called endoscopic spine surgery (ESS).

Evaluating Candidacy for Surgery via Benefit-Risk Analysis 

As with any medical procedure, spinal fusion is associated with both positive outcomes and risks. Therefore, we encourage you to seek multiple medical opinions and do your own research to develop a better understanding not just of “what” your treatment options are but also “why” those options have been recommended.

Remember, surgery, no matter how minimally-invasive, is still surgery, and spinal fusion is one of the riskier types of spinal surgery often recommended only as a last resort. The good news is that whether you opt for nonsurgical treatment methods, spinal fusion, or alternative surgical solutions, you’ve got options.

We encourage you to consult with us to talk through all of those options and learn answers to all of the questions that you have such as:

  • What kind of surgery is right for me, if any?
  • Do I really need surgery?
  • Can spinal fusion cause immediate problems?
  • Can spinal fusion cause problems later in life?

In the meantime, here is more information about the potential benefits versus risks of spinal fusion surgery and what’s involved with spinal fusion recovery so you are more informed when you consult with a professional:

The Case for Spinal Fusion: Positive Effects of Spinal Fusion are Likely

When done right, even though there are always risks of complications, and even though spinal fusion surgery recovery is a process, spinal fusion can lead to the following positive outcomes for patients suffering from such conditions as spondylolisthesis, spinal fractures, or scoliosis:

  • Pain relief
  • Improved stability and alignment
  • Decreased deformity risk
  • Potentially fewer additional surgeries required

Issues Post-Spinal Fusion Are Possible, But Less Likely

Here are a few of the risks and complications of spinal fusion you should know about:

  • Nerve damage
  • Excess bleeding
  • Non-Union
  • Adjacent segment disease (ASD)
  • Hardware issues

A Note on Quality of Life Adjustments

Spinal fusion results in decreased flexibility; after all, in this surgical intervention, different vertebrae are fused together.

While fusion still may lead to improved quality of life in some ways, in other ways, it may result in discomfort or other lifestyle adjustments.

Expecting full mobility after fusion may, for instance, not be realistic. Therefore, before you consider surgery, we recommend weighing pros and cons carefully and comparing what your quality of life is like now vs. what it could realistically be like in several scenarios post-surgery:

  • In the best-case scenario
  • In the worst-case scenario
  • In the most likely scenario (some combination of best/worst)

Discover Your Surgical & Nonsurgical Treatment Options

Don’t gamble with something as important and impactful as your health. Instead, consult with trusted professionals with a history of surgical success who can direct you toward an individualized treatment plan that makes sense for you!

Whether that involves physical therapy and pain management, minimally invasive surgery, or spinal fusion, we here at Desert Spine and Scoliosis Center can help. Reach out for your medical evaluation today.