When Does One Need a Spinal Fusion Surgery?Sometimes problems in the spine can cause severe back pain which radiates to the legs and feet. This condition is known as spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is caused by:
- Collapsed discs
- Bony overgrowths in the spine
- Slip of vertebra
- Trauma related injury
These conditions cause the pressure/compression of the spinal nerve roots resulting in the back pain.
What is the treatment for spinal stenosis?
The spinal stenosis treatment involves the spinal decompression surgery. The decompression technique involves various spine surgeries undertaken to relieve the pressure on the spinal nerves.
Laminectomy and laminotomy: Laminectomy and laminotomy involves complete or partial removal of the lamina which is the bony arch of the spinal canal.
Foraminotomy: In this procedure removal of the bone and tissues which block the exit of the nerve root from the spinal column is done.
Osteophyte Removal: The bony overgrowths are removed.
Discectomy: The portions of the prolapsed disc are removed in this surgery.
Sometimes only the spinal stenosis surgery is not enough and so the spinal fusion surgery is also performed to fuse the vertebrae and stabilize the spine.
How is Spinal Fusion helpful as a follow-up surgery?
Spinal fusion is used as a follow-up surgery to treat problems of spinal stenosis, slip discs, spondylolisthesis, scoliosis etc.
Scoliosis: Here the spinal cord bends in an abnormal “C” or “S” shape. This requires a correction and stabilization surgery. The spinal infusion scoliosis may be required to hold the spine in its stable position.
Spondylolisthesis: In some cases, one of the vertebra slides forward or backward over the adjacent bone which results in the spinal nerves getting squeezed. This condition is known as spondylolisthesis. The surgical intervention technique involves spinal decompression surgery or the spinal fusion surgery. Sometimes both may be done to stabilize the spine.
Slip disc or herniated disc: In the herniated disc condition, the gel in the inner disc ring bulges out and extrudes into the outer surface. When this touches the spinal nerve, it stresses and causes severe back pain. Herniated disc surgery involves discectomy or the disc replacement method.
What are the alternatives to Spinal Fusion?
The alternatives to spinal fusion include-
Artificial disc replacement: Also known as disc arthroplasty, this process involves removal of the disc associated with herniation, spurs and decompression. The disc is replaced with an artificial one allowing for improved mobility.
Laminoplasty: This involves reconstructing the spine bones to increase the spinal canal space and give space to the nerves.
Minimally invasive spine surgery: The minimally invasive spine surgery includes the use of lasers, endoscopes and tubes so that there is less damage of the tissue thus reducing the need for spinal fusion surgery.
Stem cell therapy: Here the adult stem cells are used to replace the damaged cells.
What is a Spinal Cord Stimulator and what role does it play in Spine Pain?
The spinal cord stimulator sends mild electrical pulses that intercepts and replaces the pain messages before reaching the brain. This is implanted near the pain area with minimally invasive procedures. The spinal cord stimulator implant is widely opted now due to its effectiveness for severe back pain conditions hence providing relief to the patient.