Some painful spine conditions, such as degenerative disc disease or spondylolisthesis, are made worse by spinal movement. Too much movement increases pain in the joint, affecting your ability to use your back.
Lumbar fusion surgery prevents movement between the spine bones (vertebrae). This helps reduce back pain, though it may make your spine less flexible.
Faisal Siddiqui, MD, the highly skilled spine surgeon at The Spine Care Center, strives to reduce your recovery time after lumbar fusion surgery. Whenever possible, he uses minimally invasive techniques and also uses incisions in the side (lateral approach) or in the front (anterior approach). These incisions reduce your recovery time compared to an incision made directly into your back.
Dr. Siddiqui will talk with you about the possible risks and benefits of lumbar fusion surgery. He will carefully plan your surgery in order to maximize your chances of a fast recovery and lasting back pain relief.
Before your surgery, The Spine Care Center‘s physicians will order imaging tests, like an MRI or X-ray, of your spine so that they can pinpoint the vertebrae that need to be fused together. These images will also help the spine surgeon plan and personalize your surgery.
You may need to stop taking certain medicines, such as blood thinners and over-the-counter pain relief medications, before your procedure. Always tell your surgeon if you are taking medications of any kind, including any herbs or supplements. You may be instructed to stop taking some medications in the days or weeks leading up to your surgery.
You should not have food or drink after midnight before your surgery. You will also need to arrange for someone to pick you up, drive you home, and care for you after your surgery.
You will be asleep under general anesthesia during your lumbar fusion surgery. An anesthesiologist, your surgeon, your surgical physician assistant, and our team of nurses will be caring for you at all times.
Once you are asleep, your surgeon will make an incision in your back, side, or front, depending on how your surgery will be performed. Your spine surgeon might then use tools to place a bone graft in between the two vertebrae that need to be fused. Bone grafts encourage the two bones to grow together into one larger bone. Your surgeon may use your own bone from your hip or spine, a donor bone graft, or an artificial bone graft to encourage your vertebrae to grow together.
In some cases, your surgeon will place plates, screws, and rods into your spine to hold the bones in place while they fuse together. These devices ensure your spine doesn’t move, which can help you heal faster after surgery. You might need to wear a back brace as you heal, depending on the extent of your surgery. We will help you find a back brace if you require one after your surgery.
The entire procedure can take anywhere from two to four hours. Once Dr. Siddiqui is certain that the graft is in place and that your spine is stable, he will stitch up and bandage your incision.
You’ll then be moved to the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) where nurses will monitor you as you wake up.
After a short stay in the PACU, you will be moved to your own hospital room. You may need to stay in the hospital for a day or two after surgery.
The Spine Care Center may also prescribe medication to help manage your post-operative pain. You’ll also receive instructions regarding the things that you can and can’t do after surgery. For instance, you may not be able to bend or twist your back for a few weeks. A physical therapist will teach you how to move properly as you heal.
A bone stimulator may also be prescribed for you to use daily after surgery to help the fused vertebrae become even stronger. The Spine Care Center’s physicians will facilitate this for you if it’s needed.
It may take a few months for you to heal completely, though your pain will improve over time. You will need to participate in physical therapy to safely build up strength in your back. After your surgery, you will still have regular follow-ups at The Spine Care Center to ensure you are recovering as expected.
If you’ve been considering spine surgery, then make sure you visit The Spine Care Center in Manassas today or request an appointment online. Our expert providers are here to help you live a healthy, happy life.