Your spine stretches the full length of your back, from your neck to your pelvis. It contains a total of 24 vertebral bones, plus two fused bones called the sacrum and coccyx, and all of these bones work together to support your body and protect your spinal cord.
Your spine naturally bends and twists as you move through life. But if you’re one of the 16 million American adults with chronic back pain, this movement can aggravate your symptoms.
Spine conditions like degenerative disc disease and spondylolisthesis can make you restrict your activities. And when conservative treatment doesn’t seem to make a difference, you might be wondering if spine surgery is right for you.
Aron Rovner, MD, and our team at New York Spine and Sports Surgery are here to help. We specialize in lumbar spinal fusion, a common and effective procedure for chronic low back pain.
How lumbar fusion works
Lumbar fusion involves fusing two or more vertebral bones together. It’s a common spine surgery, and spine surgeons performed about 200,000 lumbar fusion procedures annually in recent years.
Lumbar fusion at New York Spine and Sports Surgery is a minimally invasive procedure. Dr. Rovner and our surgical team make a small incision along your spine, near the location of your pain.
We remove any damaged bone and tissue, then use a bone graft to fuse your vertebrae together. Depending on your health needs, we may use rods, plates, or pins to add more stability to your spine. Then, Dr. Rovner closes the incision, and you’re moved into recovery.
Full recovery from lumbar fusion surgery can take about three months. As you heal, your vertebrae fuse together. Fusion increases stability in your spine and prevents movement between the vertebrae. For many people with chronic low pain, lumbar fusion can offer lasting relief.
When to consider lumbar fusion
Lumbar fusion is a surgical procedure, and all surgeries come with risks. However, there are a few reasons that lumbar fusion could be a good choice for you.
It might be time to consider lumbar fusion if:
You have a chronic pain condition
Back pain is one of the most common causes of disability in the country. While acute pain generally resolves within a few months, there are a number of chronic conditions that cause longer-lasting pain.
Lumbar fusion could relieve pain that’s caused by some of these conditions, including:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Herniated disc
- Spinal instability
- Spinal stenosis
Dr. Rover specializes in identifying and diagnosing spinal conditions. After he reaches a diagnosis, he talks with you about your treatment options.
Conservative treatments haven’t relieved your pain
Since lumbar fusion is a surgical procedure, Dr. Rovner typically recommends trying nonsurgical treatments first. Depending on your spinal condition, you may have a variety of nonsurgical treatment options available to you.
Medications, including anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxers, and joint injections, may relieve pain and improve mobility. Lifestyle changes, like rest and activity modification, can also make a difference for your discomfort.
Dr. Rover often prescribes physical therapy along with other treatments. Whether you choose spine surgery or not, physical therapy can build strength, improve mobility, and reduce pain over time.
But if you’ve exhausted your conservative treatment options and you still have pain, it might be time to consider lumbar fusion. Dr. Rover works with you to evaluate your condition and help you decide if lumbar fusion offers the best chance of lasting pain relief.
Ready to learn more about lumbar fusion? Schedule a consultation at New York Spine and Sports Surgery. Call the office nearest you or send us a message online to get started.