What to Know About Preparing For Spinal Fusion Surgery

back pain, spine, decompression, sciatica, trigger point injection

Spinal fusion is a specialized surgical procedure that relieves back pain by reducing movement in the spine. To perform spinal fusion, Dr. Benjamin R. Cohen fuses two or more vertebrae in your spine together using a bone graft held in place by metal plates, rods, or screws. This strategy increases stability in your spine, reduces movement, and corrects existing deformities, which helps ease pain and discomfort.

Whenever possible, Dr. Cohen uses minimally invasive surgical spinal fusion techniques to cause less trauma to your body. These approaches typically have faster recovery periods with less postoperative pain.

Dr. Cohen might recommend spinal fusion for a variety of spinal issues, including:

The success rates for spinal fusion surgery range from 70-95% depending on your condition. To ensure you have the highest success rates possible, Dr. Cohen recommends taking the following precautions in advance.

Adjust your medications

In most cases, the amount of blood you lose during a spinal fusion surgery is minimal, especially when Dr. Cohen uses a minimally invasive technique to perform your procedure. However, some medications, both prescription and over-the-counter drugs, can reduce your blood’s ability to clot.

Before having spinal fusion, discuss any medications, pain relievers, or supplements you’re taking with Dr. Cohen to determine if they should be adjusted and when.

Stop smoking

Having spinal fusion is the perfect excuse to quit smoking. In fact, the success of your surgery depends on it. Nicotine can inhibit bone growth and is linked to pseudarthrosis,  the term describing unsuccessful spinal fusion because your bones don’t fuse together properly.

And, while it’s never an ideal time to start smoking again, it’s crucial to remain smoke-free for at least three months — an important time for bone growth and healing — after your procedure.

If you smoke, discuss your habit with Dr. Cohen in advance to develop a strategy that ensures optimal results from spinal fusion.

Have help lined up

In many cases, you can expect to stay in the hospital for a few days after having spinal fusion. But, just because you finally get to go home, it doesn’t mean you can resume normal activities immediately. It can take 3-6 months for your bones to heal and fuse together. During this time, you may need help with certain activities to ensure your spine heals correctly.

Dr. Cohen can work with you before your surgery to help determine the amount and level of assistance you may need during this time. These guidelines usually involve several factors, including:

Sometimes, Dr. Cohen also recommends wearing a brace to keep your spine properly aligned while you recover.

Get moving

While you can expect to have restricted activity after spinal fusion, it’s also essential to keep moving. Not only should you plan on regular physical therapy sessions that teach you how to move in ways that keep your spine correctly aligned, but you also need daily exercise.

To help you prepare, Dr. Cohen can provide a list of activities, like regular walks or light aerobic exercise, that can get you in top shape for your surgery and on your feet again as quickly as possible.

For more information on preparing for spinal fusion, call Benjamin R. Cohen, M.D., F.A.C.S., or schedule an appointment online today.

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