Chronic neck or back pain is draining problem to live with. Still, many people are apprehensive to talk with their doctor about ongoing pain. We understand that one should be cautious about undergoing any type of spinal procedure. However, it is also important to remember that a consultation with a spinal specialist is only one in many steps taken before surgery is even a consideration.
Numerous patients have visited Princeton Neurological Surgery to discuss chronic back or neck pain. From the consultation onward, our primary focus in patient care is to help relieve people of pain that is affecting their mobility and quality of life. To achieve this, we offer several options for treating varying spinal conditions. One common method of treatment is spinal fusion, which we want to discuss here. We believe that the more a patient knows, the more confident they feel in their healthcare decisions.
Reasons for Spinal Fusion
The purpose of a spinal fusion is to improve the stability of a spinal segment by joining together two vertebrae. This may be necessary to relieve pain caused by friction between the two bones. The reason a person may need spinal fusion could vary from one case to another. There is a common misconception that this procedure is performed to repair damage caused by traumatic injury. That is only one reason. Additional situations for which spinal fusion may be ideal include:
- Abnormal spinal curvature such as scoliosis
- Spinal weakness due to infection or tumor
- Mechanical back pain caused by degenerative disc disease
Spinal Fusion and the Question of Mobility
Hearing that two bones of the spine will be fused together, many patients fear that they will lose mobility such as the ability to turn their head from side to side. There are 31 other vertebrae that remain free and mobile. The fusion of two has little impact on overall range of motion along the spinal column. By alleviating friction and compression on nerve roots, spinal fusion often results in a perceived increase in mobility for many people. This is because their ongoing pain prevented them from performing movements comfortably.
Spinal Fusion Recovery
It used to be that back surgery was relatively invasive and difficult to recover from. This isn’t the case today. Many of the procedures surgeons perform, including fusions, are minimally invasive. Yes, there will be some soreness after surgery. There will also be a need for physical therapy following spinal fusion. The specific exercises and stretches recommended by a physical therapist focus on restoring structural support and flexibility, both of which can hasten a return to normal activities. Patients can expect to be back to much of their normal routine within a few months.
Don’t live with back pain because of assumptions regarding treatment options. Call 609-890-3400 to schedule a consultation with board-certified neurosurgeon Dr. Lipani in our Hamilton office. We also serve patients in Morristown and Bridgewater.