A condition called lumbar spinal stenosis causes chronic lower back pain and loss of mobility in older adults. More and more patients are turning to spinal fusion surgery as a means to treat this painful condition. But is spinal fusion surgery right for you? Before you decide to go through with this surgery, make sure you have all the facts. Talk to a spine care specialist in Jacksonville, FL, and ask the right questions. Keep reading to find out more about treating lumbar spinal stenosis with spinal fusion surgery.

What Is Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?

Lumbar spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal. Over time, this narrowing of the spinal canal puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. This pressure causes lower back pain that may be accompanied by intermittent leg weakness, numbness, or leg pain.

What Is Spinal Fusion Surgery?

Spinal fusion surgery is the process of connecting two or more vertebrae in the spinal column using a bone graft. The bone graft fuses the vertebrae together to form one bone to prevent the joint from moving and potentially alleviate lower back pain.

Is Surgery the Only Option for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?

No. If your legs and toes are functioning fine, and you only have intermittent back pain, spinal fusion surgery is not recommended. Physical therapy, exercise and a healthy diet will help to alleviate your back pain without surgery.

What Are the Risks of Spinal Fusion Surgery?

The risks of spinal fusion surgery include pain at the graft site, infection, excessive bleeding, nerve damage, blood clots and spinal fluid leakage. There is also a significant risk of eventual reoperation.

Who Is the Ideal Candidate for Spinal Fusion Surgery?

The ideal candidate for spinal fusion surgery is someone who only has two affected vertebrae. Patients rarely feel a loss of mobility with the fusion of two vertebrae. But if more than two vertebrae are affected and require a fusion, significant reduction in spinal mobility may result. The ideal candidate for spinal fusion surgery is also someone who is physically active, doesn’t smoke, isn’t obese. and leads a healthy lifestyle.

How Long Does It Take to Recover from Spinal Fusion Surgery?

The recovery time from spinal fusion surgery can last three to six months. You will likely spend two days recovering in the hospital. Once home, care needs to be taken to allow the new bone graft to fuse the vertebrae together and heal. No heavy lifting is allowed during the first few weeks following surgery. Pain will begin to subside after about 4 weeks. At this time, you can start doing physical therapy exercises. After about three months of physical therapy, your doctor will let you know if you can resume your normal activities again.

Spinal fusion surgery has helped many people recover from chronic lower back pain and lead healthy, active lives. But spinal fusion surgery isn’t for everyone. If you would like more information, talk to spine care consultants in Jacksonville, FL, and they will be sure to answer your questions.

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