What To Do If You're Wondering, "Do I Need Anterior Fusion Surgery?"

 If you’ve been dealing with severe pain related to a spinal problem, you’re probably ready to find a solution that will allow you to move on with a healthy, active lifestyle. Your spine is a key player in the health of your nervous system as well as in the structural strength of your entire skeletal frame. If your pain has been significant and persistent, you may be asking yourself, “do I need anterior fusion surgery?”

Symptoms & Causes
Some of the more common spinal conditions and injuries can be successfully treated with nonoperative techniques and therapies. But if those conservative options do not accomplish the desired ends, patients should consider the pain relief that a decompression and fusion procedure can provide. Are you currently experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Nerve root pressure
  • Numbness/tingling
  • Weakness
  • Arm pain
  • Leg pain
  • Spinal deformity
Of course, pain can occur when the spine is damaged due to injury. But outside of sustaining direct impact to the back or neck, there are several other conditions that could result in the above mentioned symptoms. First, herniated discs in the spine can put pressure on nerves and cause corresponding pain. Herniated, or “slipped” discs can occur in any region of the spine. Secondly, simple degeneration of the joints can also create problems in the spine. Osteoarthritis (or Spondylosis) usually occurs due to aging, but can, in some cases, happen prematurely in younger individuals as well. Another degenerative condition called Spinal Stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal column from degeneration, which in turn, puts pressure on nerves that exit from it.
Do I Need Anterior Fusion Surgery?
First, let’s take a minute to define the term. When we refer to spinal fusion surgery, we are referencing a surgical method that involves joining one or more vertebrae together. There is a common misconception that assumes the discs are fused together during the surgery, but that is not the case. The procedure itself involves the replacement of the disc with a bone graft within the affected areas of the spine. During the recovery period after surgery, the actual “fusing” takes place as the bones heal together with the graft, uniting the spine in that area.
Why Anterior?
You may understand why you need spinal fusion, but you are probably still wondering, “why do I need anterior fusion surgery?” That question is a good one and the answer lies in the fact that without access from the anterior (front) side, your surgeon will be limited in his or her ability to address the issue and solve the problem. If approached from an incision in the back, a fusion procedure only allows limited visibility of the structure causing nerve root compression and surgeons have to move spinal nerves to the side in order to access the impacted area. An anterior approach, however, gives the surgeon a better view and plenty of room to work. In short, anterior fusion is more effective in most cases.
An experienced spine specialist, like the surgeons at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, will be able to assess the severity of your condition and propose the best possible solution. If a decompression and fusion procedure is the recommendation, your physician will be able to explain whether an anterior or posterior approach will be used. will need either anterior cervical fusion, thoracic fusion or anterior lumbar fusion, depending on the location of the problem area on the spinal column.
If you’re experiencing a back neck condition that has not been treatable with more conservative methods, it’s time to seriously consider the possibility of having a decompression and fusion surgery procedure. If your condition is caught before irreversible damage is done to the spine, then this fusion surgery can be an extremely successful solution to addressing the source of the problem, alleviating the pressure and relieving your pain. Keep in mind, though, that timely intervention is important. So, don’t wait! If you’re wondering, “do I need anterior fusion surgery?” then it’s time to call Rothman Orthopaedic Institute to set up an appointment with one of our world-renowned spine surgeons!


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