A spinal fusion procedure is a drastic treatment option used to resolve chronic back and neck pain syndromes from a variety of causative conditions. Fusion has been used to treat dorsopathy for decades, although it remains an incredibly controversial surgical technique to this day.
This article will explain in vivid detail exactly what fusion is and how it works. We will investigate why fusion is such a universal surgical solution, regardless of the diagnosis, and provide insight as to why it should be avoided in virtually every case.
Fusion means to join together and in the case of this surgery, the name is aptly applied. Spinal fusion uses bone grafts and surgical hardware to join 2 or more individual vertebrae into one solid piece of bone and metal. The surgery is one of the most invasive procedures used to fight back or neck pain and is a true torture to endure. The operation takes many hours and usually involves large incisions with multiple levels of muscular dissection.
Fusion surgery really does massive damage to the spine and the surrounding musculature and most patients require a full year to completely heal. Once recovered, patients must learn to move all over again, since the very nature of fusion makes normal spinal mobility a thing of the past.
Fusion is one of the few available treatment choices for serious scoliosis, kyphosis, lordosis, spondylolisthesis and other conditions which can lead to spinal instability. In these cases, it might be justified if the circumstances are truly dire. However, using fusion to treat degenerative disc disease or herniated discs is utterly ludicrous in 98% of operated patients. This is also true for many of the various other conditions typically treated using fusion procedures, as well.
This operation should not be used to treat any form of back pain when any other therapy option is available. Unfortunately, it is performed unnecessarily, every day, on thousands of patients worldwide, causing permanent debilitating spinal injury and disability.
Here are some absolute facts concerning fusion procedures:
Fusion is the #1 cause of failed back surgery syndrome.
Many fusions do not hold properly, requiring additional operations.
Fusion is contrary to natural spinal form and function.
Fusion is the #1 cause of severe postoperative back pain.
Fusion is barbaric and is a poor option, even when truly indicated.
There is no proof that preventing intervertebral movement is universally successful in resolving pain from any diagnosed condition.
Fusion will place inordinate stress on surrounding vertebral levels, hastening and increasing the incidence of severe vertebral and disc degeneration. This often results in additional surgical fusions in the future.
Every week, I get letters from patients who have endured a horrific fusion, only to experience continued and often worsened pain. Many have been permanently disabled by the surgery and have simply lost hope in finding a cure. Most of these patients were convinced by their surgeon that fusion would be the real cure they were searching for.
A significant percentage of operated patients have suffered failed back surgery syndrome and have been utterly abandoned by these same surgeons. "Sorry, I did the best I could" is the typical response from the doctor.
There is simply no other way to say this, except to spell it out loud and clear: Fusion is a poor therapeutic option. Fusion typically creates more problems than it cures. Fusion goes against the basic principles of our spinal design.
Fusion has been the end of the line for many patients, since the damage caused by the operation often can not be undone. If you are considering a fusion surgery for a herniated disc or degenerative disc disease, I implore you to think carefully. Do your own research on this agonizing surgical technique before consenting to anything.
Some fusions are indicated and actually go well, since the patient has few or no other options. However, using fusion to treat disc conditions is much like having a loaded gun pointed directly at your head. Be very careful.