If you’ve tried conservative treatments for your back or leg pain and have not found relief, or if you have chronic and severe pain, talk to your healthcare provider about your options, including spinal fusion surgery.
What Is Spinal Fusion Surgery?
Leg or lower back pain can occur due to instability or abnormal motion between spinal bones, which is often a side effect of arthritis, according to Eric Sundberg, MD, an orthopedic surgeon who performs surgeries at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center. Spinal fusion surgery helps to promote stability in the spine by connecting or “fusing” two or more vertebra (bones) in the spinal column to help them grow together.
“We try conservative management first, including physical therapy, medications and cortisone injections,” says Dr. Sundberg. “Rarely, when patients have severe symptoms, such as compromised motor function in the legs, it’s necessary to go right to surgery."
The majority of spinal fusion surgeries at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center are for lumbar spine (lower back) conditions to alleviate pain due to degenerative conditions resulting from arthritis or the normal “wear and tear” that patients experience as they age.
“We perform surgery as minimally invasive as we can with smaller incisions and less muscle disruption,” says Dr. Sundberg. “We use magnification and special retractors to avoid damage to the muscle structures around the spine. Often, we can do this by approaching the spine from the front (anterior spinal fusion) or the side (lateral access) to avoid going through the big muscles around the back of the spine. The surgery involves placing bone or a bonelike material (bone graft) in the space between the vertebrae and fusing together with screws and rods, and often a spacer, or cage, which goes between the vertebrae while the bone graft heals.
Pain Relief Is the Advantage
“Problems with the lumbar spine or neck can be very debilitating. It’s hard to function with severe back pain that can be unrelenting or nerve pain that is just miserable. Seeing my patients go from excruciating pain to doing very well is the most rewarding part of my job,” says Dr. Sundberg.
The Orthopedic Spine and Joint Center team at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center includes experienced surgeons and orthopedic nurses and rehabilitation specialists who are dedicated to delivering an exceptional patient experience. If you need a doctor, visit doctors.lakewoodranchmedicalcenter.com.
Individual results may vary. There are risks associated with any surgical procedure. Talk with your doctor about these risks to find out if spinal fusion surgery is right for you. Physicians are on the medical staff of Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, but, with limited exceptions, are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of Lakewood Ranch Medical Center. The hospital shall not be liable for actions or treatments provided by physicians. For language assistance, disability accommodations and the nondiscrimination notice, visit our website.