Degenerative disc disease is one of the most common causes of neck and lower back pain. This condition is technically not a disease, but a natural consequence of aging causing changes in the spinal discs, which my lead to compression of the spinal cord, damage to the spinal nerves, and associated pain.
About the Procedure
When non-surgical treatment options for degenerative disc disease fail, a lumbar spinal fusion procedure may become necessary. During the procedure, your surgeon will widen the spinal canal and then remove part or all of any damaged or herniated discs in your lower (lumbar) spine. After the damaged discs have been removed, your surgeon will stabilize the affected vertebrae by placing bone grafts and/or titanium rods and screws. In addition to providing support for the affected vertebrae, these rods and screws will fuse the vertebrae together to prevent further compression and damage.
Risks and Benefits
The main benefit of lumbar spinal fusion is relief from pain associated with degenerative disc disease. While degenerative disc disease is not exactly a progressive disease, your symptoms will worsen over time as your body ages. Having a lumbar spinal fusion performed will remove the source of your pain and prevent it from coming back. This procedure can benefit patients dealing with pain from other conditions as well—conditions like lumbar disc herniation, lumbar spinal stenosis, scoliosis, spondylolisthesis, and spinal fractures.
Although lumbar spinal fusion can be very successful in relieving pain, it does come with some associated risks. With any kind of surgery there is always a risk for bleeding and infection, not to mention a long recovery period. Minimally invasive surgical techniques generally have a lower risk for bleeding and infection, as well as a shorter recovery time. In most cases, patients can return home after lumbar spinal fusion within a few days, but it may take several months for the actual fusion to become complete. During this time you may need to limit your mobility, and may have to wear a brace to provide needed support for the spine. Your surgeon will tell you exactly what to expect from your recovery.
What to Expect from Jersey Spine Associates
At Jersey Spine Associates, we use only the most updated technologies and safest surgical procedures, so you can rest assured knowing that you are in good hands. When you choose us to perform your lumbar spinal fusion, we will keep you informed every step of the way. When you come in for your consultation we will go over the details of the procedure and answer any questions you may have. On the day of your surgery we will go over the procedure step by step, so you know exactly what will be happening.
During your recovery from lumbar spinal fusion, you can count on Jersey Spine Associates to offer the support you need. We are always just a phone call away to answer questions or address concerns, and we will be happy to schedule you for a post-surgery consultation, if you need one.