The most common reason for spinal fusion is to relieve pain caused by one or more “pinched” spinal nerves, which are often the result of stenosis. Pinched nerves can also cause numbness or weakness in your arms or legs. The concept of this procedure is to fuse together two or more vertebrae so they can become a single, solid bone that restores stability of the spine.
Spinal fusion surgery can be performed on the cervical, thoracic, or lumbar regions of the spine. With this surgery, two or more levels of the spine can be fused together with the aid of cage devices that are held together with metal plates, rods, or screws. After the surgery, your body begins to naturally heal and new bone is formed to create one solid piece of bone.
Depending on your medical condition, you may need clearance from your primary care physician or another specialist, such as a cardiologist. Certain medications may need to be stopped prior to surgery as well. Preoperative blood work and testing are also required from our clinic several days before the scheduled procedure.
Your surgical incision(s) will be at the spinal stenosis area. The incisions can be closed with surgical adhesives, sutures, or staples. Surgical staples and sutures will be removed during your postoperative visit in our clinic. Adhesive strips may be applied after staple or suture removal to bring edges of an incision together. These strips should be kept completely dry for the first 24 hours, and usually fall off within 7-10 days.
Most patients can go home after 2-3 days in the hospital following the surgery. After hospitalization, you will be released to either your home or a rehab facility, depending on your condition. A follow-up appointment in our clinic will then be scheduled, and you will be prescribed narcotic pain medications to be used for a limited time frame.
We recommend that our patients drink lots of water and eat high-fiber foods to prevent constipation that can often occur from these medications. Over-the-counter laxatives and stool softeners can be used if needed as well.
What You Can Do to Help with Your Recovery?
- Cease all tobacco use including cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigar pipes, chewing tobacco, and smokeless tobacco. Nicotine slows down bone growth and decreases blood circulation, which in turn slows down wound healing while simultaneously increasing the risk of postoperative infection.
- Do not take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and steroids without a surgeon’s approval, as these can affect new bone growth and cause incomplete fusion.
- You may take acetaminophen (Tylenol).
Oklahoma Center for Spine and Pain Solutions possesses years of experience diagnosing and treating bone, joint, and muscle injuries and conditions, including musculoskeletal and spinal disorders. Our team would love to help you find relief!