Persistent back pain can make the simplest movements unbearable. If medication, physical therapy and other noninvasive treatments can’t relieve the pain, your doctor may recommend spinal fusion.
Each year, approximately 400,000 Americans have spinal fusion surgery to treat back pain caused by age-related degeneration or other conditions — it’s one of the most common types of back surgery performed today. At El Camino Health, you can count on a team of neurosurgeons, orthopedic spine surgeons and other specialized clinicians who have advanced expertise in spinal fusion.
What Is Spinal Fusion?
Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure that permanently joins two or more vertebrae, or bones of the spine, which can help reduce pressure on spinal nerves. Spinal fusion is used to treat a variety of conditions, including:
- Herniated discs or degenerative disc disease
- Scoliosis and other spinal abnormalities
- Spinal stenosis
- Spinal instability or weakness due to infection or tumors
- Vertebral compression fractures
To perform spinal fusion — which typically takes three to four hours — surgeons remove the disc (protective cushion) between the two vertebrae, along with any abnormal bone growths, or bone spurs. Surgeons then place a bone graft (a transplanted piece of bone) — or other bone-like material — as a bridge to connect the vertebrae. Surgeons may use plates, rods or screws to help stabilize the vertebrae until your bone graft heals.
Over several months, the grafts heal and bond the vertebrae together. This eliminates all motion between the vertebrae, which helps stabilize your spine and reduce inflammation and pain. During your recovery, your doctor will recommend physical therapy to strengthen your back and help you return to regular activities.
Less Invasive Spinal Fusion Techniques
Whenever possible, the orthopedic spine surgeons at El Camino Health use the least invasive approach to spinal fusion to relieve back pain. In some instances, your surgeon can perform the procedure by making just a few small incisions and using tiny, specialized surgical instruments, which includes a miniature camera that provides magnified, 3-D imaging. This less invasive alternative to traditional surgery can offer a number of benefits, including less pain and scarring and a faster recovery. Your doctor can help determine whether this procedure is right for you.
Spinal Fusion Expertise
The orthopedic spine surgeons at El Camino Health are highly skilled in spinal fusion. Our Mountain View and Los Gatos campuses have been designated as Blue Distinction Centers for spinal surgery by Blue Shield of California. Our Los Gatos campus earned the Gold Seal of Approval for spinal fusion from The Joint Commission.
When you come to El Camino Health for back care, you can depend on exceptional care from an award-winning team.