Lower back fusion (or spinal fusion, or lumbar decompression surgery) is a treatment that is aimed at reducing the amount of pain that people with back problems experience. The idea of the surgery is to fuse two or more of the vertebrae in the spine, creating a single vertebra that is much bigger than the original. By fusing vertebrae it is hoped that greater levels of stability will be achieved, and that motions of the back that cause pain will be eliminated.
A physician may recommend low back fusion surgery as a procedure to help correct or deal with a number of issues, such as spondylolisthesis, scoliosis, a herniated disk or a fractured vertebra. This procedure has always been controversial, and many people who have undergone low back fusion surgery have reported that it has made no difference, or that it has made their issues worse.
Evidence is Growing that Low Back Fusion Surgery is Not as Effective as Once Thought
A recent study undertaken by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians looked into low back fusion surgery and how successful it typically was. The results were pretty stunning – of the 33 cases they examined, they found that only two resulted in ‘clinically meaningful benefits’. That means that 31 unnecessary, intrusive and expensive surgeries were performed needlessly.
Other studies on low back fusion surgery have highlighted the many complications that typically arise as a result of the surgery, including infections, nerve injuries, and serious bleeding. One study noted that the surgery was no more effective than simple physical therapy.
If Low Back Fusion Surgeries are so Ineffective, What are the Alternatives?
There are always alternatives to surgery, and some of them are much more effective. For example, stem cell therapy is a method of using a patient’s own resources (i.e. stem cells) in order to provide a natural solution to common issues such as long-term pain. Stem cells are injected into the areas to be treated, hence giving the body a ‘helping hand’ in fixing itself. Other regenerative medicine treatments such as using platelet-rich plasma should be considered too.
If you would like to learn more about regenerative medicine techniques such as platelet-rich plasma or the use of stem cells, then we here at the Michigan Center for Regenerative Medicine are here to answer any of your questions. We can be reached by phone at (248) 216-1008 and will be happy to sit down with you for a free consultation to discuss your individual health needs.