Are There Alternatives to Spinal Fusion to Alleviate Back Pain?
If you’re frustrated by constant back discomfort and seeking pain relief, you may be considering spinal fusion surgery. It’s a relatively common procedure that, in many cases, is essential if you want to alleviate your back pain and improve both your physical and mental health. It’s easy to understand, however, that you may be concerned about having a significant spinal surgery and are wondering if there are alternate techniques to relieve your pain. Over the years, orthopedic surgeons have concluded that spinal fusion surgery is not always essential and that there are different methods by which to take pressure off your nerves.
Overall, it is important to understand what is bothering you, what your treatment options are, and that decision is best for your physical and mental health.
What is Spinal Fusion Surgery?
Before you can decide whether or not spinal fusion is right for you, it is first important to understand what it is and why you might need it. Spinal fusion is a surgical technique that connects two or more vertebrae into a single bone. The goal is to diminish back pain by reducing friction between the vertebrae. The procedure used to be more common for those with degenerative disc disease, scoliosis, and herniated discs, but is now slightly more irregular because it’s more invasive and necessitates a longer recovery time than modern surgeries.
There are several conditions for which patients may need spinal fusion, including:
- Degenerative disk disease
- Fractured vertebrae
- Spinal stenosis
- Spine Infections
Spinal fusion surgery is only essential if chronic pain persists after your doctor has accurately diagnosed your condition and has endeavored alternative methods with limited success.
Non-Surgical Alternatives to Spinal Fusion
There are several alternative treatment options that you may consider depending on your case, doctor’s recommendation, and intent to keep a range of motion.
- Physical Therapy: Physical therapists are trained professionals who can evaluate your injury and improve your quality of life through hands-on care, patient education, and prescribed movement. Physical therapy will help you increase functionality and strength using individualized rehabilitation training, exercises, and treatments.
- Steroid Injections: If your back pain won’t go away with time—and if your pain is caused by inflammation of the spinal nerves—steroid injections are minimally invasive and will help you temporarily relieve pain in your neck, arms, back, and legs.
- Radiofrequency Ablation: This is a minimally invasive procedure that uses electric current to heat up a small area of nerve tissue to reduce or stop the transmission of pain. This is a fine method if you want to avoid surgery, get immediate pain relief, have little to no recovery time, and see improved functionality.
Surgical Alternatives to Spinal Fusion
Sometimes surgery is necessary to truly relieve nerve compression for the long haul. While spinal fusion is a common treatment method for conditions of this nature, there are alternate procedures that are less invasive and provide quicker recovery times.
- Undergoing an artificial disk replacement: Your doctor will determine if disk pain is the root of your chronic pain. If so, you may want to consider a replacement procedure. Undergoing an artificial disk surgery involves embedding a plastic or metal device into your spine that will emulate the functionality of the previous disk. This will help your spine better manage weight, give you much-needed pain relief, and provide you with an improved range of motion.
- Cervical Laminoplasty: This procedure will enlarge the size of your spinal canal, which not only provides the nerves with more room but also relieves abnormal pressure. One benefit of this type of surgery is that it preserves your range of motion, unlike spinal fusion.
- Minimally Invasive Lumbar Surgery: This type of surgery provides patients with an alternative to spinal fusion but without many of the adverse side effects, including loss of strength and range of motion. The goal of minimally invasive spine surgery is to stabilize the vertebral bones and spinal joints and relieve pressure applied to the nerves.
Consider Us at New Jersey Spine and Orthopedic
If you have chronic back pain and are seeking alternative solutions to spinal fusion, consider seeking less invasive techniques with the professionals at New Jersey Spine and Orthopedic. If you want to discover the cause of your pain and which treatment options are best for you, take our free Pain Assessment. Or, if you already know your condition, find treatment options through our Treatment Finder. Our medical staff is dedicated to providing you with the latest technology and a team that is well-versed in the art of pain management. If you’re seeking reduced discomfort, decreased trauma, and faster recovery times in order to relieve your lower back pain, our medical professionals will be with you every step of the way. Give us a call at (866) 272-9271 or complete our contact form today!