It doesn’t matter if you suffered years of degenerative disc disease or a back injury on the job, spinal fusion will allow you relief from daily agony and allow you to begin working again. After years of constant pain, you and your doctor have agreed that spinal fusion surgery is the only option left—but the thought of joining your vertebrae together doesn’t exactly make you happy. How can you know what to expect when it’s all over?
Spinal Fusion Surgery Can Have Permanent Consequences
Like most transplant surgeries, the procedure will require prolonged healing and a considerable amount of recovery before you are able to resume your daily activities. Here are the most common complications patients experience after fusion surgery:
- Pain and immobility – Immediately after the surgery, you may be groggy or nauseated as a result of the general anesthesia. You will not be able to move for several days in order to allow the incision over your spine to heal, and you may be given strong medication for the pain.
- Transplant site pain – Doctors will use small pieces of bone to fill the space between the vertebrae that are fused. These may come from donation matches or taken from your own body. Bone transplanted from your own body will often heal more quickly, but you will have a second wound site that will also need to heal after surgery.
- Lost mobility – Spinal fusion is often seen as a last resort for people suffering an extreme amount of pain. As a result, many patients sacrifice some lost mobility in exchange for relief the pain.
- Strain on other discs – Fusion surgery may strengthen the backbone, but it can also place a strain on the discs above and below the fusion site.
- Additional surgery – Depending on their activity level, many patients who undergo spinal fusion surgery may need an additional spinal procedure within ten years.
Although the surgery carries many risks, spinal fusion may be the best back injury treatment to give patients the ability to walk, stand, and bear weight without pain. However, the procedure is expensive and will prevent the patient for working for weeks or months—and may prevent him from lifting heavy objects for the rest of his life.
To find out if this surgery could be the best option for you, click the related links on this page, or leave us a comment below to share your experience on coping with spinal fusion after a serious back injury at work.