What are the pros and cons of spinal fusion surgery?


Quick Answer

While spinal fusion can relieve pain, its invasive nature can cause inflammation in surrounding muscles, irritation in nearby nerves and adjacent segment disease. These effects mean that patients should consider alternatives before committing to surgery, notes North Tampa Spine and Joint Center.

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Full Answer

For people experiencing pain along the spine, fusion surgery can provide relief that is permanent because the fusion process identifies and corrects problems all along the spine. One effect is the widening of the lumen on the vertebrae, releasing nerves that may have been trapped and were causing pain as a result, according to North Tampa Spine and Joint Center.

In addition to loss of motion among the vertebrae, fusion surgery can lead to inflammation in any musculature that the surgeon is forced to dissect, meaning that the spinal pain is replaced by muscular pain. Spinal fusion also requires rods and screws to hold the vertebrae in place, which can irritate nearby nerves, causing another type of pain. Also, because the fusion takes away some function of vertebrae close to the fused segment, vertebrae that are not part of the fusion can suffer from degeneration because of the stress that the fused portion of the spine causes. Taken together, these factors make other treatments for spinal conditions preferable in many cases, as stated by North Tampa Spine and Joint Center.

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