Lumbar Spinal Fusion: What Is It?

spine skeleton

Back fusion, also known as lumbar spinal fusion, is a type of surgery performed to connect vertebrae in the back. In the procedure, bone is removed from one area in your body and used to connect vertebrae. A metal rod implant may also be used to support the bone graft, which is supposed to grow between the two vertebrae and integrate with them – literally fusing them together.

The primary purpose of fusions is to reduce or eliminate pain caused by problems like degenerative joint disease, scoliosis, and other spinal problems. The surgery is a major procedure with a long recovery time. It’s also expensive and comes with serious risks. Furthermore, studies are mixed; there’s no way to know for sure if it will work. Fusions don’t always alleviate pain, and then you’re stuck with a damaged spine that was further traumatized by surgery; you’re still in pain, and now you likely need a maintenance routine of opioids to get through your day. This doesn’t restore your quality of life or the health of your spine, and meanwhile, opioids damage your organs and cardiovascular system over time. Surgery fails because the root cause of most lower back pain is not the spine, disc, or nerve as we have been taught.

Patients may want to consider options for treating lower back pain other than spinal fusion.

Non-Invasive Alternatives to Spinal Fusion Surgery

If you’re in severe pain and your doctor has recommended surgery, you may want to research the alternatives to back fusion first. Natural ways to address a spinal problem can include massage therapy, chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, and myofascial release. Patients may also receive Prolotherapy injections for pain management. Sufferers are also encouraged to learn exercises and stretches, as well as undergo nutritional therapy to resolve potential nutrient deficiencies.

We can also supplement these treatments with regenerative therapies such as PRP injections and stem cell treatments to heal your back, stopping your lower back pain permanently. These regenerative methods of resolving a chronically painful back are safe, minimally-invasive, and natural. A comprehensive treatment regimen of interdisciplinary therapies is the best way to truly heal your back; surgery is not the only option.

Avoid Back Fusion Surgery with Holistic Therapy

At Blatman Health and Wellness, helping patients recover is our number one priority. If we can help you avoid back surgery, we will. Our integrative therapies offer a new approach to treating and managing pain. Modern ways to treat pain don’t always focus on the root cause, only the symptom of pain itself. We prefer to address both: your pain and why this is happening to you. If you’re ready to take control of your pain, call our office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Blatman.

A doctor specializing in holistic and regenerative treatments for torn tendons, arthritic joints, pinched nerves, and more, Dr. Blatman uses restorative methods to treat your back pain – not invasive surgeries, which cause additional trauma to the fascia around those damaged vertebrae and discs, don’t always help, and don’t heal the source of your pain.

Spinal Fusion Risks & Cost

On average, a back fusion will cost around $100,000. This cost can increase depending on the severity of the condition and how complex the procedure is. It’s important to keep in mind that this cost is only for the procedure itself. There are often many other expenses such as missed work, travel, and prescriptions, that can add up to thousands of dollars or more. Perhaps the biggest problem with a spinal fusion, besides the extreme cost, is that there’s no guarantee it’ll work. In fact, spinal fusions have a startlingly high failure rate.

It’s also important to keep in mind that if you do have a fusion, there’s about a 20% chance that you’ll need to undergo another surgery for secondary complications like internal bleeding and nerve damage. Other risks include infection, blood clots, and pain from where the initial fusion graft was taken from.

Is Lower Back Surgery Recommended by Doctors?

One shocking fact about back fusions is that the procedure is often recommended by doctors when it’s not needed. 80% of the people in this world will have some form of back pain in their lives. Not all cases require surgery. There are many nonsurgical options available that are far more affordable and less risky than a fusion.

There are countless patients who’ve been able to reduce or even eliminate their back pain through stretching, physical therapy, and chiropractic adjustments. In addition, dietary adjustments and herbal remedies can offer significant relief.

Regenerative Treatments can Boost Holistic Therapies

Back surgery is an expensive and risky surgery that some medical professionals believe is unnecessary. Unfortunately, patients around the world are often recommended the surgery by their primary care doctor when there are other alternatives available. In most cases, chronic lower back pain is not cause enough for a procedure as serious as a spinal fusion.

Many patients could experience relief just through a combination of lifestyle and dietary changes as well as complementary therapies that include stretching, chiropractic adjustments, massage, and more. As well, supplementing these natural changes with regenerative therapies like stem cell treatments and PRP injections can boost your body’s healing system and heal the cause of your lower back pain.

As with any injury and illness to the tissues, fascia, and bone in our bodies, it’s not nature vs nurture – it’s nature and nurture. Nature: genetic predispositions, immune system integrity, age, etc. all affect how and why you suffer from back pain. Nurture: proper self-care like diet, exercise, physical therapy, myofascial massage, etc. all affect how, why, and how well your back pain abates. Throw in a bit of nature to the treatment via stem cells or PRP targeting the source of the pain in your lower back, and you’ll see the benefits that comprehensive and holistic therapies, as well as natural pain relief via routes like medical marijuana, are far superior alternatives to lumbar spinal fusion.

Explore Other Paths to Healing Your Back Pain at Blatman Health and Wellness Center

Our Cincinnati wellness clinic offers only holistic, healthy, healing-focused therapies that treat your whole-body health, because no matter the malady, failing to recognize other factors that might contribute to your pain means missed opportunities for resolving it. Dr. Blatman has seen many patients with back problems benefit from regimens of holistic therapies and regenerative treatments, allowing them to avoid the route of back fusion surgery.

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