What is spinal fusion surgery?

Spinal fusion surgery, also known as spinal arthrodesis, is the surgical option for treating arthritis in your neck or spine.

It stops the motion of the painful neck bones by fusing them together.

What to expect from spinal fusion surgery

Spinal fusion is a major surgery. It can require a large incision. Your doctor may choose to approach from the front through your abdomen or from your back, depending on which bones they plan to fuse together. They may also perform surgery on the back of your neck through the front of your neck.

Once your doctor finds the correct bones, they attach a bone graft between them. This is a small piece of bone tissue. It provides immediate support and promotes healing. Your doctor may harvest bone from your hip or use an artificial graft. Your doctor will also insert plates, rods and screws to stabilize your neck or spine.

The recovery process takes several months. Your doctor may ask you to wear a brace to limit the movement of your spine as it heals. You'll also have medication to manage the pain from the procedure.

You need to limit your exercise and activities during the recovery process. That helps make sure your spine heals correctly. Doctors only fuse a small part of your neck or spine, so your range of motion isn't affected as much.

Common conditions requiring spinal fusion

Arthritis isn't the only condition doctors treat with arthrodesis or fusion surgery.

Other conditions include:

  • Scoliosis
  • Fractures
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Degenerative disc disease

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