What is a Lumbar Fusion Surgery?
Spinal fusion, also called spondylodesis or spondylosyndesis, is a neurosurgical technique which joins two or more vertebrae. This procedure can be performed at any level in the spine and prevents any movement between the fused vertebrae.
How does a Lumbar Spinal Fusion Work?
Like the biologic process the body utilizes to naturally heal a broken bone, Spinal fusion mimics the process. During a lumbar (or lower back) spinal fusion, the surgeon places bone or a bonelike material within the cavity between two spinal vertebrae which they aim to fuse. Metal rods, screws and plates hold the vertebrae together, allowing it to heal into one single unit.
The process prevents patients from stretching nearby nerves, ligaments, and muscles that may have caused discomfort. Studies indicate that the patient’s pain improves 60% to 70% after Lumbar spinal fusion surgery and approximately 80% of patients self-reporting satisfactory results following spinal fusion surgery.
What does the recovery from Lumbar Spinal Fusion look like?
It typically takes about 4 to 6 weeks to return to an office or sedentary job, but it can take 3 months or longer to return to activities that are more physical. Despite the name of the surgery, the spine is not actually fused during a lumbar spinal fusion procedure.
Depending on the surgery and your general condition, you may only have to wear your back brace for two weeks or until your first post-op visit. Lumbar fusion surgery patients will have to wear their brace for a longer period of time, up to three months, especially as they return to work and to normal activities.
The best sleeping position to reduce your pain after surgery is either on your back with your knees bent and a pillow under your knees or on your side with your knees bent and a pillow between your legs.
The recovery time from spine surgery is not the time for cutting calories; it’s a time for increasing them. The days, weeks and months after surgery are not only a time for your spine to heal—it’s a time when your entire body goes through the recovery process.