The success rate of spinal fusion surgery for fractures, deformity or instability of the spine is generally high, according to Mayo Clinic. However, if the cause of the pain is unclear, the surgery is often no more successful than other types of care.
In patients who had chronic back pain before the procedure, there is a good chance of more pain after the surgery, explains MedlinePlus. The surgery is unlikely to stop all the pain, and even with advanced testing, such as magnetic resonance imaging, surgeons have a difficult time determining which patients are likely to receive the greatest benefits.
During spinal fusion surgery, the surgeon places a piece of bone or synthetic material between the vertebrae. If he uses bone, he harvests it from another part of the body, such as the hip. He uses screws and plates to hold the implant in place while the bones undergo the same process they use in healing a break, and the process immobilizes the movement in the joint between the two vertebrae, reports Mayo Clinic. Because the joint cannot move normally after the surgery, the procedure places additional stress on joints above and below it. This additional stress sometimes accelerates the degeneration of these joints.