Low back pain is a common problem and is usually not a cause of alarm. However, it is essential to seek medical attention if self-care measures like rest and over-the-counter don’t alleviate the pain. Back pain often improves with conservative treatments like medications, injections, and physical therapy. However, sometimes the pain may be unrelenting even after trying different treatments. You should discuss lumbar fusion Bethlehem with your healthcare provider in such cases.
What is lumbar fusion?
Lumbar fusion or spinal fusion is a surgical procedure that surgeons perform to fix problems with the small bones in the spine. The procedure is typically a welding process; it involves permanently connecting two or more vertebrae in the spine, eliminating painful motion between them. The idea is to fuse the vertebrae so that they heal into a single, solid bone.
You may only be eligible for spine surgery if you have tried out other conservative treatments after your doctor pinpoints the source of your pain. Therefore, your doctor uses imaging tests like x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and computed tomography (CT) scans to establish the source of your pain.
What are the risks of lumbar fusion?
Lumbar or spinal fusion is a surgical procedure associated with several risks, as with any operation. Before surgery, your doctor will discuss each risk and recommend specific measures to help you avoid possible complications. The potential risk and complications linked with lumbar fusion include:
- Bleeding. Expect some bleeding during surgery; this is normal, and the bleeding is usually not significant.
- Infection. You may develop an infection at the incision site, so your healthcare provider will prescribe antibiotics before, during, and after surgery to lessen your risk of infection.
- Pain at the graft site. If the bone grafts are obtained from your body, you may have persistent pain at the bone graft site.
- Recurring symptoms. Some patients experience the symptoms they had before, even after surgery.
Recovery after lumbar fusion
After surgery, expect to feel some pain; this is a natural part of the healing process. The surgical team will help you work to reduce your pain, helping you recover faster from surgery. Usually, healthcare providers prescribe medications for short-term pain relief after surgery. Different medicines to alleviate pain after surgery include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, opioids, and local anesthetics. Your healthcare provider may recommend a combination of these medications for pain relief and reduce the need for opioids.
Although opioids can help relieve pain after surgery, beware they are narcotics and can be addictive. When taken for an extended period, opioids cause dependency, which is a critical public health issue in the United States. For this reason, you should only take opioids as per your doctor’s instructions and stop taking them as soon as you obtain pain relief. Tell your doctor if your pain is not subsiding within a few days after the procedure. You also want to talk to your surgeon if you are already taking opioids before surgery so that your postoperative pain regimen.
Consult your surgeon at Polaris Spine & Neurosurgery Center to learn more about lumbar fusion.