3 Alternatives to a Spinal Fusion

Category: Minimally Invasive Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: November 3, 2014

doctor and patientIt is always good to survey your options before deciding to undergo surgery. A spinal fusion is no different. In this post we will go through a number of alternatives to spinal fusion surgery and offer a few tips for making the best decision for your treatment.

Spine Fusion

A spinal fusion is a minimally invasive spinal surgery in which two or more vertebrae are joined together with hardware to prevent movement. This is a common procedure with a high success rate, but fusions are not a good fit for every patient. For those patients there are various alternative options, such as:

  • Total Disc Replacement. In this procedure, a spinal disc is removed completely and replaced by an artificial disc.
  • Minimally Invasive Stabilization. This procedure aims to accomplish the same goal as a fusion (take pressure off spinal nerves and discs) while also preserving motion in the spine. This procedure involves more potential risks than a fusion, however.
  • Non-Surgical Options. For patients who want to avoid surgery, conservative treatments like cortisone injections, chiropractic, and pain medications may help relieve pain. These methods are typically not as successful at reducing pain in the long term when compared to surgery.

The toughest part is deciding which treatment option is best for your situation. Some patients are not good candidates for a spinal fusion (more on what makes a good candidate here) and thus have the decision narrowed down for them automatically. Others are perfect candidates but may find it difficult to make such a big decision.

Choosing the Best Treatment for You

Every patient is different. It would be disingenuous to recommend spine fusion surgery to every patient with a degenerating spinal disc. It is the surgeon’s job to explain each patient’s options and guide him or her to the best possible treatment option.

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