Low Back Pain and Sciatica and Spinal Fusion
Effect of Spinal Fusion on Low Back Pain and Sciatica
Spinal fusion is a procedure that joins two bones (vertebrae) in the spinal column together to eliminate pain caused by movement. This, and any other surgery, is a major procedure and should only be used after other treatment options for low back pain and sciatica have been tried and proven to be unsuccessful.
Most of the time when a patient has a laminectomy and disc removal, a spinal fusion is not done. If a spinal fusion is to be performed, the adjacent vertebral bones are joined together with bone harvested either from the patient or a bone donor bank. Additional internal devices, such as metal rods and pins, may be used to provide further stability. The actual "fusing" of the vertebral segments occurs as the body stimulates new bone growth between the vertebrae over the course of the healing period, which can last 3 to 6 months or even longer.
Side Effects and Warnings
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a spinal fusion, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
- Incomplete fusion of the bones
- Blood clots
- Hematoma (build-up of blood in the wound)
- Nerve damage causing pain, numbness, tingling, or paralysis
- Impaired bowel and/or bladder function
- Reaction to anesthesia
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
- Poor nutrition
- Advanced age
- Pre-existing medical condition
#Call Your Doctor
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the incision site
- Nausea and/or vomiting that you cannot control with the medicines you were given after surgery, or which persist for more than two days after discharge from the hospital
- Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you have been given
- Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
- Joint pain, fatigue, stiffness, rash, or other new symptoms
- Numbness, tingling, pain, or weakness, especially in the arms, hands, legs, or feet
- Pain, swelling in your feet, legs, or calves
- Loss of bladder or bowel function
- Pain, burning, urgency, frequency of urination, or persistent blood in the urine
In case of an emergency, CALL 911.
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