Problems with your spine are no walk in the park — especially when they affect your livelihood. Conservative treatments might temporarily subdue the pain, but the problem is still there. When nothing else helps, and you need relief soon, a spinal fusion could be just what you and your spine need.
At the Spine and Orthopedic Center of NM, your back is in excellent hands with our expert staff. Dr. Omar Osmani is our orthopedic surgeon who specializes in all kinds of back treatments, including spinal fusion. Once he determines your diagnosis, Dr. Osmani takes all the steps necessary to get your life back on track.
What is a spinal fusion?
Your spine is a complex part of your body, made up of bones called vertebrae that protect your spinal cord. The vertebrae have spongy discs in between them that help to absorb pressure and shock in your spinal canal.
Although the vertebrae in your spine are strong, over time they can suffer injury or degeneration. This leads to pain and disability in your spine, especially with certain movements. Although some treatments may help lessen the pain, nothing can stop movement within your spine like a spinal fusion.
So what exactly is this procedure? A spinal fusion is a surgical procedure that allows Dr. Osmani to basically “weld” together two or more of your vertebrae. This means that instead of two separate vertebrae, you’ll have one large vertebrae made from two or more individual bones.
Dr. Osmani fuses your vertebrae together using metal screws and plates. This helps to keep the two vertebrae together while new bone forms between them. Once the bone forms, it holds the two bones together, which minimizes movement and prevents pain.
Conditions that a spinal fusion helps
A spinal fusion is an invasive procedure, so it’s not just used for any back problem that causes pain. Because of the way a spinal fusion limits motion, it’s best suited to treat severe cases of conditions such as:
- Herniated discs
- Spinal stenosis
- Degenerative disc disease
- Vertebral fractures
However, because of the risks associated with any surgical procedure, Dr. Osmani uses imaging studies to pinpoint the exact cause of your discomfort to determine if a spinal fusion is right for you.
He also may want to try less invasive techniques to relieve your pain before he jumps straight to a fusion. This is due to the fact that a spinal fusion is permanent, and he wants to make sure the severity of your condition warrants the risks associated with this procedure.
However, if Dr. Osmani determines that you’re a good candidate for spinal fusion, it means the benefits outweigh the risks. In these cases, a spinal fusion gives you your life back, and stops the source of the pain and disability.
What to expect after your procedure
After you have a spinal fusion, it takes some time for the bone to form between your vertebrae. Typically, the first three months after your procedure are the most crucial to your recovery. In those first couple of months, you can expect to start physical therapy to help in your recovery.
During the first few months, Dr. Osmani has set restrictions to make sure you don’t jeopardize the surgical site. This may include certain movements you should avoid, such as:
- Lifting anything over 10 pounds
- Bending forward
- Stretching backward
- Twisting your torso
You’ll want to avoid any kind of extra strenuous activity that could put added pressure on the fusion. Dr. Osmani may also want you to wear a brace, so make sure to keep it on as instructed to aid in healing.
As the weeks go by, you should start to feel less pain at the incision site, and be able to add more activity into your daily routine. You still need to be careful, but you can add longer walks or activities around the house as you can tolerate them.
After about six months, your fusion should be well on its way to being healed, which means a more normal life for you. However, it can take anywhere from a year or more for the fusion to be completely healed. Once the site is healed, you can enjoy most of the activities that you did before surgery.
When you’re ready to take the plunge and improve your life with a spinal fusion, call the Spine and Orthopedic Center of New Mexico team at 575-623-9101 or book an appointment online today.