Spinal fusion may be recommended by your physician if you suffer from back pains that have been diagnosed as a result of one of the following conditions: degenerative disorders, deformity of the spine, trauma, or tumors of the spinal column.
As discs lose their water content due to disease and/or age, they lose their height, bringing the vertebrae closer together. In addition, the nerve openings in your spine become narrower. The end result is a “dried-up” disc which fails to act as a shock-absorber between the vertebral bodies. This leads to limitation of function and can cause pain, particularly when you are walking, running, or jumping.
Degenerative disc disease is considered part of the natural process of growing older. As we age, our discs can lose their flexibility, elasticity, and shock-absorbing characteristics. Injury to the back, poor posture and incorrect body movements can also weaken the disc, causing disc degeneration.
In medicine, stenosis refers to a narrowing of a duct or passageway. Spinal stenosis is a condition caused by narrowing of the spinal canal, which is the space where the spinal cord passes. Normally, there is enough space in the openings of the vertebrae to accommodate the nerve fibers branching off the spinal cord. As we age, the vertebrae and discs in our spine may begin to degenerate. The ligaments and bones may start to thicken and enlarge, leaving less space for your spinal cord and spinal nerves while the discs can collapse or protrude (herniate).
Changes to the size or shape of the spinal canal usually occur as a result of aging. When these changes lead to spinal stenosis, typically in the lumbar spine, you may notice pain in the buttocks or a “pins and needles” sensation in the thigh or leg that occurs when standing (extension) or walking. The discomfort is usually relieved by bending forward (flexion) or with rest. You may also feel back pain, in addition to leg pain and weakness.
Spinal deformity disorders are abnormal curving of the spinal column, either abnormal forward curving (lordosis) or upper back bulge (kyphosis) or side-to-side curve (scoliosis). Mild cases may not affect daily living, but severe cases can be painful and limit normal activity. To stop the curve from getting worse, spinal surgery may be offered by your physician.
Trauma and tumor procedures constitute the smallest portion of spinal surgery procedures. These surgical procedures treat pathologies relating to injury (fractures and dislocations) or cancer.
The information on this website is for general education purposes only. It is not intended to replace the advice or care from a healthcare provider, and may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments, or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visiting with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your healthcare provider because of any information you obtain on this website.