Spinal fusion is a surgical technique where one or more of the vertebrae are joined together. After the vertebrae are fused, they will no longer move against one another. Spinal fusion places bone grafts between the vertebrae. Then the body heals the grafts over several months - similar to healing a fracture - which joins the vertebrae together and makes them stable. Spinal fusion procedures can be performed anywhere on the spine including the cervical, thoracic, or lumbar spine. It can also be used to address scoliosis.
Cervical fusion can be used to treat many neck problems due to degenerative changes in the vertebrae. While most neck issues do not require surgery, if conservative treatments fail to provide pain relief, Dr. Christensen may suggest a cervical fusion. Cervical fusion procedures are performed in 2 ways: either anterior cervical fusion or posterior cervical fusion. Both are used in conjunction with decompression procedures as effective ways to remove pressure from the nerve roots or spinal cord and can ease arm pain.
One of the surgeries for chronic back pain and deformity problems is spinal fusion surgery in the thoracic region of the spine. It helps people suffering from chronic back pain or severe spinal deformities live more normal lives again. Thoracic fusion can be performed in a traditional open surgery or during a minimally invasive procedure. Dr. Christensen uses minimally invasive techniques whenever possible because the surgery is less traumatic to the patient and involves quicker recovery with less pain, scarring, and a lower risk of infection. Thoracic fusion joins 2 or more vertebrae together, typically with a bone graft that heals over time.
Common reasons for a lumbar fusion include traumatic injury vertebrae becoming unstable and moving causing nerves to be pinched, or tumors. In both cases, the spine appears unstable or prone to unusual movements. This instability can damage tissues or cause pain or deformity, due to the underlying pathology. Spinal fusion can also be performed to repair the effects of degenerative diseases, although other treatments are usually successful before spinal fusion is considered.
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