Lumbar Spinal Fusion Surgery in Bethesda MD

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What are your options for Spinal Fusion Surgery in Bethesda, MD

Living with back pain can be excruciating. It impacts your quality of life and may even keep you from the activities you enjoy. One of the surgical solutions we employ at OrthoBethesda is spinal fusion. Whether you’re an elderly patient with disc degeneration or you’ve suffered an injury to your spine causing chronic back pain, we invite Bethesda, Maryland patients to make an appointment at OrthoBethesda to find out if spinal fusion is the best option for you.


What Is Spinal Fusion?

Spinal fusion is a surgical option we use to correct issues with the vertebrae of your spine. During the operation, we fuse two or more of these small spinal bones so that when they heal, they form a single, solid bone. This eliminates pain when moving, and it can also restore stability to your spine.

Over 350,000 spinal fusion surgeries occur every year in the United States, the majority of which are lumbar spinal fusion which involves the lower spine. During the operation, we employ bone grafting by placing small pieces of bone into the space between the vertebrae, which, over time, fuses the bones. As they fuse, the bones are immobilized using metal rods and screws. Your orthopedic surgeon may also use external bracing or casting to ensure full immobilization during your recovery process. This spine surgery may sound intimidating, but the specialists in our center make sure questions are answered our patients feel comfortable.

Once full spinal fusion occurs, it eliminates motion between the fused vertebral segments. By limiting spinal flexibility, many patients find that their painful symptoms are relieved. The surgery can also stop the progression of spinal deformities like scoliosis. Because spinal fusions only involve these small segments, it does not limit motion very much.

Symptoms and Back Issues Treated by Spinal Fusion

When you come to OrthoBethesda with persistent back pain, we perform a full orthopedic evaluation, which includes looking through your medical history, conducting a physical as well as any necessary diagnostic tests. Only then will we discuss both non-surgical and surgical solutions, one of which could be spinal fusion.

In general, we begin with conservative measures that don’t involve surgery, like medication or physical therapy. However, if your symptoms persist, it may be time to consider spinal fusion surgery.

There are several symptoms and conditions that spinal fusion can treat:

  • Pain in your back, thigh, buttock or legs
  • Numbness, tingling or weakness in your legs
  • Spinal vertebrae injuries
  • Slipped disc or herniated disc
  • Scoliosis or kyphosis
  • Spinal instability caused by infections or tumors

What to Expect from Your Spinal Fusion Surgery

Before undergoing spinal fusion surgery, you may be asked to stop taking certain medications that could interfere with the operation’s results. On the day of your surgery, you’ll be admitted to the hospital and then taken for preoperative prep. Most patients receive general anesthesia which puts you to sleep during the entire operation. However, you may also get spinal anesthesia which numbs you from the waist down, so you feel nothing, but you remain awake.

There are three different techniques your surgeon may employ during your spinal fusion:
  • Anterior approach (approached from the front)
  • Posterior approach (from the back)
  • Lateral approach (from the side)

Depending on the condition of your spine, lumbar interbody fusion surgery generally takes one to three hours. During the operation, your orthopedic surgeon removes any bone or ligament that overlays the nerve roots as well as removing displaced disc material. This process relieves pressure on your nerve roots. In most cases, the actual fusion is performed at the same time, especially if there is spinal instability.

Some Risks Associated With Spinal Fusion Surgery

Complications associated with back surgery are low. However, there are potential risks involved in any operation.

Some spinal fusion surgery complications could include:
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Decreased intestinal function
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Blood clots
  • Recurrent disc herniations
  • Nerve damage

Some patients also continue to have some persistent pain in their lower back. However, you can reduce this by staying in good physical condition.

Recovery and Rehabilitation After Spinal Fusion Surgery

Most patients experience pain for the first few days after spinal fusion surgery. However, you should be able to manage this with pain medication. You must keep your fused spine in proper alignment, so our team will teach you how to move, sit, stand, walk, and reposition yourself.

Once you’re ready to go home, you may need the help of family or friends for a few days to assist you in daily tasks like dressing, washing, and other activities. You will also need to arrange transportation during this time, as you shouldn’t drive a car after your surgery.

As you recover at home, be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions, so you heal properly. This includes:
  • Wound care
  • Eating well-balanced meals
  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Low impact workouts once you are able
  • Staying alert to warning signs of blood clots and infection including fever, swelling, chills, and pain

Periodically after your surgery, you will meet with your OrthoBethesda physician to ensure your recovery is progressing properly.

Testimonial for Dr. Joseph R. O’Brien, Spinal Surgeon at OrthoBethesda

Dr. O’Brien, Upon a short time ago, I realized that I did not give you a complete or accurate report of how I was feeling, because I had not stood up yet. Because I had focused on that, the fact that I slept through the night without waking up with the stabbing pain on my spinal cord. I slept through the night for the first time in 3-4 years. When I got to my feet later, for the first time, the feeling of pins and needles, electrical shock and severe muscle strain did not present. I can also walk erect. I’ll be singing your praises and sending all who have back or neck problems to you. If the hand and knee doctor(s) in your practice are as good as you, I’ll be on to see them. God bless you, that brilliant mind of yours, your skilled hands, and your awesome clinical and bedside manner. – J.R.

Call OrthoBethsda Today to Schedule Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery in Bethesda, MD

The compassionate and trusted team at OrthoBethesda can treat all types of spinal issues, including those that impact the cervical spine, spinal cord, disc, lumbar region, back, and other areas. Patients of all ages have put their trust in our team. We will conduct a thorough evaluation of your symptoms before providing a diagnosis and recommending spinal surgery of any kind, including lumbar interbody fusion. Back pain can make it difficult to perform daily activities, including being able to work. Surgical options at our hospital make it easier to treat these conditions. Call us today at (301) 530-1010 to schedule an appointment with a medical surgeon in Bethesda. If you have problems such as scoliosis, blood issues, or other conditions; it is best to visit a doctor at our hospital for treatment of these conditions.

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Speak to an OrthoBethesda Surgeon About Spinal Fusion Surgery

If you are experiencing back pain, then don’t wait. Patients in and near Bethesda, MD should contact OrthoBethesda today to speak with our team about your treatment options. We can give you information about conservative measures and figure out if a spinal fusion surgery would benefit your condition. We will take the time to ensure you fully understand all your choices. You can also call us at (301) 530-1010 to schedule your appointment.