Five Fast Facts on Spinal Fusion

Woman stretching out a sore back
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A spinal fusion is the permanent connection of two or more vertebrae, preventing them from moving independently, which helps to stabilize the spine. A fusion is done in an attempt to provide relief of pain, muscle weakness and other symptoms.

Here are 5 facts you should consider:

1. A spinal fusion can take place anywhere along the lumbar, thoracic or cervical spine (lower, mid or upper back) where movement of the vertebrae triggers pain and other symptoms.

2. More than 400,000 patients have spinal fusions every year, with lumbar fusions being the most common fusion procedure.

3. Patients with scoliosis and spondylolisthesis are usually good candidates for a spinal fusion. If you do not have any of these conditions, smaller procedures such as a laminectomy that can be performed on an outpatient basis, may be considered. Patients should only have a fusion performed if smaller procedures are not a good option.

4. Some chronic back pain sufferers for whom other treatments have not worked are able to obtain relief from their pain through spinal fusion. View Donald's story here.

5. Smokers are proven poor candidates for spinal fusion surgery, because smoking impairs the body's ability to heal properly. Also, patients who have arthritis throughout their lower back may not be good candidates due to the inability of their bones to fuse properly.

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