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The 5 "W's" of spinal fusion surgery

Posted by James Aspell | Nov 26, 2022 | 0 Comments

What to Know About Spinal Fusion Surgery In Connecticut

Considering spinal fusion surgery for your workplace back injury in Connecticut? Here are 5 “W's” to know about—the who, what, where, when, and why.

Who

While it's a common surgery, spinal fusion is appropriate only for a certain subset of Connecticut work injury patients patients. While A lot of people come in with back or neck pain,  not many actually need the fusion operation,”

“One of the main reasons I perform spinal fusion surgery is axial pain,” says Penn Medicine's  Dr. Ali. “But I may also perform surgery due to a number of other circumstances. For example, a patient may need surgery if he or she has suffered from a trauma that has led to spinal instability.”

Spinal fusion surgery may also be performed for a variety of medical conditions or back deformities. Dr. Ali sometimes sees spondylolisthesis—a problem in which one vertebra (bone) slips onto another, causing pain.

Spinal fusion surgery might also be performed when a patient has:

Fractured (broken) bones from a traumatic injury
● Abnormal curvatures of the spine from conditions like scoliosis
● An unstable or weak spine due to tumors or infections
● Degenerative disc disease resulting in mechanical back pain
● Select instances of chronic (long-lasting) lower back pain

What

During the procedure, the surgeon connects two or more vertebrae. This prevents motion in that area and can reduce pain from conditions like arthritis. The goal is to fuse the vertebrae together to prevent abnormal motion of the spine.

With any spinal fusion surgery, the goal of surgery is to create bone across two segments of vertebrae. Small pieces of bone are usually placed in the space between the vertebrae that are going to be fused. This allows for bone production so the vertebrae can heal and become a single solid segment of bone.

But the process doesn't end there. The vertebrae need to be held together, usually using plates, screws and rods to keep that segment of the spine immobile.

Where

Spinal fusion surgery can be performed on any segment of the spine, including cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and/or sacral regions.

When

The decision to perform spinal fusion surgery isn't a simple one. “We can only decide to do spinal fusion surgery after we've taken several steps,” says Dr. Ali.

That includes:

● Performing imaging tests and clinical exams
● Making a specific diagnosis
● Making a judgment as to if, and how much, symptoms can be relieved through surgery.

Often times, spinal fusion surgery is performed following other spinal surgeries that address different spinal problems:

Discectomy

This procedure is performed when someone has a herniated disc—meaning all or part of the jelly-like material between the vertebrae has been forced through a weak part of the spine. It's typically an outpatient procedure, allowing a patient to go home the same day following surgery.

Laminectomy

In this procedure, surgeons create more space for the nerves inside the spinal canal. They do this by removing the bone covering the spinal column as well as overgrown ligaments that are pushing on spinal nerves.

They also might remove bone spurs, disc fragments, or other arthritic tissue. The goal is to take pressure off of the nerves and relieve pain. At Penn Medicine, a laminectomy may be performed at the same time as spinal fusion, as determined by the surgeon.

Why

The goal of spinal fusion surgery is to stabilize parts of the spine. This treatment can lead to a better quality of life for certain patients who experience chronic back pain.

It might take several months before your bones fully fuse. A rehabilitation specialist or another medical professional will teach you correct ways to move, walk, sit, and stand, so that the bone remains aligned correctly.

Over time, you should notice reduced pain in your back. You can increase your odds of avoiding pain by maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle. Talk to your surgeon about how you can protect your back in the future and talk to an experienced workers compensation attorney about being adequately compensated for a CT work back injury.

About the Author

James Aspell

Principal since August 1, 2006 James F. Aspell is the principal and managing attorney of the firm which he started in 2006 following 20 years of litigation practice in a mid -size firm in Hartford, Connecticut. Jim focuses his practice in the areas of worker's compensation and personal injury l...

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