To fuse or not to fuse, that is the question I’ve been asking myself for years. After two decompression surgeries and persistent pain from pinched nerves, I’ve started to explore the more drastic option of lumbar fusion.
During a lumbar discectomy fusion, lumbar disc or discs are removed and two (or more) vertebras are fused to stabilize the spine. Once, the vertebral segments are joined, motion is stopped at any one segment and the vertebrae eventually form a solid bone. Here’s a video courtesy of Spine-Health that shows how the procedure is done.
The risks involved in this type of surgery are mainly neurological damage, and injury to surrounding soft tissue. From my own experience, I’ve had permanent loss of feeling in the toes of my left foot and numbness in the coccyx region. This news report outlines the possibility of spinal fusion surgery damaging abdominal nerves that control sexual function.
I seem to be the perfect candidate for Spinal Fusion as I’ve had serious disc herniation and suffer from degenerative disc disease (spondylolisthesis). I’m still hoping that my condition will improve through regular moderate exercise and physiotherapy as Spinal Fusion seems like the final option for many of us who suffer from backpain. This recent study done through Uppsala University in Sweden outlines the mixed results from having both a discectomy and spinal fusion. The publication states ” researchers concluded spinal fusion plus decompression surgery does not produce added benefits for patients or leave them less disabled.” And as for costs, the New York Times reports “Americans undergo more than 300,000 spinal fusion surgeries a year, at an average cost of $59,000 each, according to the National Center for Health Statistics”.
For those of you seriously considering Spinal Fusion check out the Mayfield Patient Guide.
And here’s Jenae K’s video journal:
3 Days Post-Op – Off morphine and very sore.
Jenae – 1 week post-op
12 Days post-op – Shows scar – Swelling is going down, recovering well. Not in any pain but limited mobility.
6 weeks post-op
5 months post-op – Busy busy…back to normal life. Back to standing for long periods without pain. Doesn’t need pain pills.