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Spinal Fusion

What is spinal fusion surgery?

Spinal fusion joins two or more vertebrae so they heal into a single, solid bone. Spinal fusion may be performed if you're not a candidate for disc replacement.

When is spinal fusion performed?

Spinal fusion is used to correct a deformity, improve stability or reduce pain due to motion. If your condition has not improved after more conservative methods, you may be a good candidate if you have:

The surgeons at Rex Neurosurgery & Spine Specialists can help you decide on the treatment that's best for you. They specialize in minimally invasive spine surgery and are experienced in diagnosing and treating disc disorders and disease, using the newest techniques for relieving pain and returning you to an active lifestyle. To make an appointment at Rex Neurosurgery & Spine Specialists, call 919-784-1410.

What to expect

Depending on the area to be fused, the procedure may be performed through an incision in your back, neck or abdomen while you're under general anesthesia. Your surgeon will use a graft (surgically implanted tissue) to hold the bones together. Rods, screws or other devices may also be used to keep vertebrae from moving until the grafts have healed. The procedure usually requires a two- to four-day hospital stay.

After surgery, your physician will prescribe pain medication, and you may receive nutrients through your IV. You'll be taught techniques for getting out of bed, sitting, standing and walking to avoid twisting your spine. You may wear a brace or cast after you leave the hospital.

Your symptoms will improve as you recover in the months after surgery; however, spinal fusion will likely not eliminate all pain. The area that was fused together during surgery will no longer be able to move, which may place additional strain on vertebrae around the fusion. Most fusions involve only small areas of the spine, so overall range of motion typically isn't limited very much.