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Who Can Benefit From a Spinal Fusion?

About 8% of Americans suffer from chronic back problems that stem from a wide variety of causes like spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, and herniated discs. While acute pain due to a muscle strain goes away after a few days or weeks, chronic back pain persists for months or years and negatively affects work, relationships, and everyday tasks.

Here at the Center for Neurosurgery Las Vegas, Dr. Scott Glickman and our team offer conservative, nonsurgical interventions for back pain. These may include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, activity modification, physical therapy, and core strengthening. 

But if these strategies don’t help resolve pain and restore function, surgery may be an option to restore quality of life for people who have chronic low back pain. Spinal fusion is a type of surgery that involves joining two adjacent vertebrae (the large bones of the spine) to form a single unit. This can be effective if you experience back pain during movement. 

Here’s what goes into determining if you’re a good candidate for spinal fusion

Accurate diagnosis

Spinal fusion can be effective in some situations but is not always a good solution for back pain and instability. Issues like piriformis syndrome, muscle strain, facet osteoarthritis, and sacroiliac joint dysfunction do not respond well to spinal fusion.

If the cause of your back pain is unclear, spinal fusion isn’t likely to help either.

Spinal fusion is a possible treatment for those who have pain due to degenerative disc disease. 

Other conditions that may benefit from spinal fusion include:

We use many diagnostic tools including X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans to accurately diagnose your condition and determine if spinal fusion has a good chance of helping reduce your pain.

Proper pain location

Spinal fusion can be done anywhere on the spine, including the cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral regions. 

Dr. Glickman has to make sure that fusion will address the area of your back causing pain. If the fuses structures aren’t the cause, obviously you won’t have a successful outcome. 

He uses his experience to carefully assess your imaging studies and distinguish problematic discs that will respond favorably to fusion.

Ensuring success of spinal fusion

Dr. Glickman also wants to make sure you have a positive experience with spinal fusion. You should be a nonsmoker because smoking inhibits healing and increases inflammation, meaning surgery may not succeed.

Our staff also takes the time to educate you on the procedure so you have realistic expectations about the results. It may take several months for you to feel better and experience a significant reduction in pain. 

We recommend you work with a rehabilitation specialist or physical therapist who can teach you ways to walk, move, sit, and stand to keep the bones aligned correctly.

You’ll also benefit from committing to a healthy lifestyle after surgery that includes a balanced diet, weight management, and smart physical activity. We can help you develop these healthy habits to promote the long-term success of your surgery.

If you have chronic back pain, consult the Center for Neurosurgery Las Vegas for treatment options. Call the office in Las Vegas, Nevada, today or use the online tool to request an appointment.

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