Versatile Uses of Spinal Fusion at Hunt Spine

Spinal fusion surgery is also commonly used to correct a deformity or to address a fracture. Additionally, this surgery can be done to address spinal stenosis or the narrowing of the spinal column. At Hunt Spine, spinal fusion is often performed along with other surgeries, such as surgery to remove bone or tissue that is putting pressure on the spinal cord and spinal nerves. It may also be performed as a follow-up surgery to stabilize the spine after a procedure to address issues such as arthritis or a spinal tumor or infection. All told, there are many uses for spinal fusion that regularly help patients get the relief they deserve.

Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to the most frequently asked questions about spine surgery, including what to expect and who the best candidates for back surgery are.

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Lumbar Spinal Fusion

Lumbar spinal fusion is a surgical procedure where two or more vertebrae in the lower back are fused together. Excessive motion between lumbar vertebrae may cause pain and limit normal mobility and functionality. Conditions that may benefit from lumbar spinal fusion are:

There are two primary types of lumbar spinal fusion, both of which rely on the growth of new bone.

  • Bone may be taken from a bone bank or from a person’s own pelvic bone. This bone is then used as a bridge between the vertebrae that are being fused together. This graft encourages new bone growth and, over time, will create a fusion, resulting in stability between the two vertebrae that have been creating painful motion. Spinal fusion can also provide additional support or alignment in the case of a fracture or deformity.
  • Metal implants can be used to connect two vertebrae, which will result in additional bone growth between the vertebrae with the same outcome as using a bone graft.

Cervical Spinal Fusion

Cervical spinal fusion is performed to fuse vertebrae in the neck and address neck pain and radiating shoulder or arm pain associated with cervical issues. Types of cervical spinal fusion include both bone grafting and the use of metal implants for lumbar spinal fusion.

Additional types of cervical spinal fusion include:

  • The use of metal plates to join vertebrae together
  • Removal of an entire vertebra and the fusion of the remaining vertebrae
  • Removal of a spinal disc and fusion of the vertebrae

Recovering from Spinal Fusion Surgery

A hospital stay of several days to monitor your progress after surgery may be required. Bed rest is not normally recommended once you are discharged and are recovering at home, but your spine doctor may have you wear a back brace in the case of lumbar spinal fusion or a neck brace in the case of cervical spinal fusion for additional support.

Full recovery is a long-term process. While you may experience relief soon after your surgery, it will take several months for the bone to heal. During this time, it is important that you maintain correct posture and learn how to move to support and strengthen your back or neck. Recovery may include exercise such as swimming, walking, or riding a stationary bicycle.

A younger patient in good health with a sedentary job may be able to return to work in 4 to 6 weeks, whereas an older patient or a patient with a job that demands more active motion or manual labor may take up to 6 months to recover before being able to return back to work.

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What Results Can I Expect From Spinal Fusion Surgery?

Before undergoing surgery, it is essential to remember that healing a fusion can take up to one year. Understanding that a fusion is not a quick fix, and having patience after your surgery, is the best way to realize positive results. You can expect a dramatic and lasting improvement in your back and leg pain. While many patients worry that lumbar fusion will take away their ability to bend and twist, most patients eventually regain the ability to turn in all directions.

Other spinal fusion results include:

  • Repairing broken bones
  • Reshaping the spine
  • Stabilizing the spine
  • Increasing mobility for a return to work and enjoyable activities

However, even when spinal fusion relieves symptoms, it doesn't prevent future back pain. Additionally, having a spine that doesn't move in some places causes additional strain on the areas around the fused part. As a result, those areas of the spine might break down faster.

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How well does spinal fusion surgery work to relieve back pain?

Spinal fusion is not guaranteed to relieve all back pain. If you experienced chronic back pain prior to spinal fusion, it is not uncommon to still experience some back pain. Exercising and losing weight can improve the outcomes of your spinal fusion surgery. Based on your specific diagnosis, Drs. Leonel and Gabriel Hunt can go over expectations for your different treatment options. To get started, please schedule your consultation today.

What Are the Risks Of Spinal Fusion Surgery?

Spinal fusion is generally safe, but as with any surgery, it carries some risks. For example, there is a risk that the vertebrae may not fuse following the surgery, called pseudoarthrosis. Additionally, people who smoke have a higher rate of risks and complications. However, with modern techniques, this happens in approximately 5% to 10% of spine fusion surgeries. Some other spinal fusion risks include:

  • Screws may break or become loose and require further surgery to remove or revise the screws and rods
  • Infection, bleeding, and anesthetic complications
  • Poor wound healing
  • Blood clots
  • Blood vessel or nerve damage in and around the spine
  • Pain at the bone graft site
  • Returning symptoms
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At Hunt Spine, you are what matters most. It is our duty to improve your quality of life by treating back and spine conditions, this is a duty we do not take lightly and it shows in our unique one-on-one consultation. In this consultation, we take as much time as needed to insure we plan out a specialized treatment that will yield optimal results.

Another important factor is you, the patient are fully educated on your condition and its treatment options. You will leave the consultation with a firm understanding and a treatment goal in mind. Dr. Leonel Hunt and Dr. Gabriel Hunt are dedicated to improving your quality of life. Contact us today to learn more, and schedule a consultation with some of the best spine specialists Los Angeles has to offer.

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