Back pain may be common, but that does not mean you have to suffer from the daily struggles. You deserve treatment for your spine condition. At Oasis Orthopedic & Spine, we believe in exhausting all non-surgical treatments before turning to minimally invasive spine surgery. But for many sufferers of back pain, conservative treatment doesn’t provide sufficient relief from back pain, and in some cases, their symptoms worsen. In situations like these, we may recommend a minimally invasive spine surgery to provide pain relief; depending on your specific diagnosis, we may recommend a lumbar spinal fusion or a disc replacement.
Patients weighing their options between a lumbar spinal fusion and a disc replacement should consider the benefits and risks of each surgery. Oasis orthopedic surgeon Dr. Patel breaks down these minimally invasive surgeries to help patients like you understand their options.
What is a Lumbar Spinal Fusion?
Dr. Patel: “A spinal fusion is the process of removing the abnormal disc in the back that is pressing on a nerve and replacing that disc with a cage and bone graft to permanently join the surrounding two vertebrae in the spine to form one solid bone.
We do lumbar spinal fusions as minimally invasive procedures by using smaller incisions, less muscle dissection, and use of a microscope so patients can get up and get around quicker than a typical traditional open surgery.”
What are the Benefits of a Lumbar Spinal Fusion?
Dr. Patel: “The biggest benefit to a spinal fusion is leg and back pain relief as well as improvement in neurological deficits.
What are the Risks of a Lumbar Spinal Fusion?
Dr. Patel: “Like any and all spine surgeries, there is the risk of infection, blood loss, neurovascular injury. But it is important to note that the risks of any minimally invasive procedure such as a lumbar spinal infusion are low compared to open surgeries.”
What is a Disc Replacement?
Dr. Patel: “A disc replacement is essentially removing the damaged disc to take pressure off the nearby nerves that are signaling pain. But instead of putting in titanium or putting in a cage, an artificial disc is placed. This allows for the pressure to be removed from the nerves but the patient would retain motion at that level, unlike a spinal fusion. Disc replacements are done in the cervical and lumbar spine.”
“There are different types of artificial disc but they are essentially two pieces of metal with a type of plastic liner sandwiched in between that, together, acts as a spinal disc.”
What are the Benefits of a Disc Replacement?
Dr. Patel: “The reason why you would want to do a lumbar disc replacement is if you have symptomatic degenerative disc disease. A cervical disc replacement is a great option if you have a herniated disc with mostly arm pain and no significant neck pain. The benefits allows patients to retain motion at the disc level in the cervical and lumbar spine.
“Doing a fusion versus a disc replacement is a better option when patients have arthritis or when they have any sort of degenerative changes or instability in the neck or the lower back.
Dr. Patel and the Oasis team of orthopedic and spine experts can help you understand your options and choose what will work best for you. Both cervical and lumbar spinal fusions and disc replacements are effective, minimally invasive procedures, each with their own advantages. If you think a spinal fusion or disc replacement could be the right next step in solving your back pain, complete our treatment finder below.
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