A spinal fusion, such as a lumbar fusion, is a type of back surgery. The procedure involves “fusing” parts of the spine to limit movement around painful or damaged vertebrae. If you’re considering this type of surgery, here’s a look at why you might need a spinal fusion, and how long spinal fusion surgery lasts.
When Is Spinal Fusion Surgery Performed?
You might be a spinal fusion candidate if you have a condition such as:
Dr. Baig, our top spine specialist, won’t normally perform this procedure unless non-surgical treatments are ineffective, as therapeutic treatments can often help you avoid the need for surgery. But if Dr. Baig determines that the potentially long-lasting and life-changing benefits of spinal fusion outweigh the risks, spinal fusion may be the best solution for you.
How Long Does It Take to Recover From Spinal Fusion Surgery?
Your recovery depends on a few things, such as the condition you have and the type of fusion surgery performed. However, here are some guidelines.
- Most patients can leave the hospital after a few days.
- It takes just a few weeks to get over the worst of the pain and discomfort.
- Patients can typically return to normal activity, and return to work without restrictions 6 weeks after the procedure.
- Full recovery takes 3-6 months. Some patients recover quicker, while others may need a little longer. But your post-operative recovery is considered with your spine surgeon’s recommendation for surgery, so always have that open communication with them.
Here at Desert Spine and Scoliosis Center, your quality of life after spinal fusion surgery matters. If you’re concerned at any point during your recovery, our team can help.
How Long Does a Spinal Fusion Last?
Spinal fusion surgery is, usually, a highly effective procedure. Once the fusion sets, the effects are permanent, so the results can last for life. As Healthline explains, “your symptoms and comfort level will gradually improve as you gain strength and confidence in your movements.” While your doctor can tell you more about what you may expect long-term, most patients who undergo a spinal fusion benefit for many years to come.
What Are the Risks of Spinal Fusion Surgery?
Like we said before, as with any surgical procedure, there are a few risks involved in spinal fusion surgery. Although the exact risk factors vary by patient, here are the most common complications.
- Post-surgical bleeding
- Ongoing pain at the bone graft site
- Blood clots
- Poor wound healing
- Local infection
- Injury to the surrounding nerves or blood vessels
Your doctor will provide thorough details about these risks, and guidance on how they can be avoided in a post-operative state.
What About Life After Spinal Fusion?
The goal of a spinal fusion is to improve your pain and improve your overall quality of life. While your doctor can tell you more about any potential complications that may occur, In most cases, spinal fusion patients do very well over time.
Particularly with minimally invasive spinal fusion surgery options, six weeks after surgery is usually when most people are able to return to daily activities; long-term results of course will depend on a patient’s efforts to learn and execute lifestyle recommendations and follow physical therapy post-surgery.
Healthline indicates that often “living a healthy lifestyle, with attention to diet and regular exercise, will help you achieve the best results” in maximizing the benefits of your procedure.
Will I Need More Back Surgery?
Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee you’ll never need back surgery in the future. For example, if other areas of your spine degenerate, it may be necessary to perform back surgery to get you out of pain. Or, you may need further spinal fusions later in life, depending on your condition.
This is why it is key for you to thoroughly understand your spine surgeon’s process in assessing your conditions and providing recommendations from the start. You, as the patient, should feel completely comfortable asking questions of your surgeon and knowing all your options, non-surgical and surgical, so you receive the best ‘you-centric’ diagnosis to get back to a life without pain.
Life After Spinal Fusion | Desert Spine and Scoliosis Center
A spinal fusion procedure can greatly improve your quality of life in the right circumstances. Dr. Baig will never perform spinal fusion surgery unless it’s the best option, and he will discuss all possible treatment options to help you make the right decision.
Is spinal fusion surgery right for you? Get a consultation today to find out!