If you have an ailing back and surgery has been suggested as the only way forward, you may be wondering how to avoid that spinal fusion surgery altogether. After all, there are certain ways you may be able to delay surgery to a time that works better for your needs and schedule.
While you likely won’t be able to avoid spinal fusion surgery forever, you may be able to effectively put it off by changing your behavior and utilizing certain tips and tricks that can help you build up strength in your back and keep that associated pain at bay. In addition to avoiding the steep cost of a spinal fusion surgery, that can help you better manage your ailment and reach a balance that works for you.
What Is a Spinal Fusion?
A special surgical procedure that joins two or more vertebrae in the neck, middle back or lower back, spinal fusion surgery is often seen as a last-ditch effort to reduce back and neck pain. While spinal fusions are rated as highly successful, long recovery times and limited movement after the surgery may give pause to many back pain sufferers. Furthermore, X-Rays of spinal fusion patients show invasive screws and other mounting hardware that can be off-putting.
Should You Avoid Spinal Fusion Surgery?
Spinal fusion surgery works by stabilizing the spine via locking a portion of it in place. The decision to move forward with a spinal fusion surgery is a decision that can only be made by you and your doctor.
That said, a spinal fusion surgery is a permanent and irreversible surgery that can significantly reduce mobility, leading many patients to opt for delaying surgery until it is needed. Even so, an experienced back surgeon will be able to help with those other treatment options and surgery if and when the time comes – we always encourage our patients to ask lots of questions of their surgeon.
What To Expect After Spinal Fusion Surgery
Because of how this type of surgery works, patients can often expect an extended spinal fusion surgery recovery time of six months or longer. For those who need the surgery, they may want to minimize their schedules for the next six months to be able to truly give themselves the appropriate time to heal.
Furthermore, since spinal fusion surgery literally fuses vertebrae together in order to get a handle on that pinching, stinging pain, patients can also expect significantly reduced movement in the area. Then there’s the additional stress on other areas of the back as they attempt to compensate, which could lead to even more damage and pain.
Tips To Avoid Spinal Fusion Surgery
While you may not be able to avoid spinal fusion surgery completely, there are some things that you can do to initially avoid that surgery.
It may sound counterintuitive, but getting more exercise is a great way to manage or deal with back pain without having to immediately resort to surgery. That’s because exercise can help you strengthen the muscles in your neck and back, providing support and minimizing the stress to your spine. Exercise also gets the blood pumping, and all that extra oxygen can reduce pain across your back. If you’re unable to engage in normal exercise because of pain or mobility issues, try aqua aerobics or other activities that can make it easier to move. Even a daily walk around the neighborhood is better than nothing.
Along with exercise, dieting can help reduce the inflammation around your spine that adds to your pain. The biggest culprits are sugary drinks, junk food and other fatty substances, but eating a healthy diet can do more than help you reach a healthy weight — it can help take some weight off an overstressed spine.
If you’re having a particular problem with movement in a certain area or you need more specialized help or focus, physical therapy can help target and alleviate concentrated pain. Physical therapy is great for bulging discs and sciatica pain since it can help relieve pressure, though it’s important to discuss exercises that you can do at home with your therapist or doctor to get most out of your sessions.
Get Help From a Spine Specialist
Here at the Desert Spine and Scoliosis Center, we understand that back pain can be as debilitating emotionally as it is physically. That’s why we treat every patient with the utmost compassion and care. Call us today to book a consultation and we’ll help suggest the right treatment for your unique needs. We’re experienced in all the latest procedures — such as lateral lumbar interbody fusion, posterior lumbar interbody fusion, anterior lumbar interbody fusion and transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion — and we’ll bring all our experience and knowledge to help you find the right treatment option for your back pain.