In spinal fusion, several vertebrae are fused together to form a bone. In order to alleviate pain, it is done to prevent bone movement. It’s used to treat weak or unstable spines, facet joints in the spine, fractures, tumors, scoliosis, and deformities. Back pain is most commonly treated by spinal fusion surgery. In addition to performing surgery on your nerves or spinal cord, you might also have to stabilize your spine afterward.

Certain cases of back pain can be treated with back surgery. In order to alleviate back pain, most patients take painkillers, receive physiotherapy, inject injections and undergo psychological therapy. Only if these treatments do not work and your doctor determines that surgery would help you, will you undergo back surgery. Hospitals perform spinal fusions. Hospital stays range from two to seven days. Depending on the complexity of the surgery, it usually takes between three and seven hours.

Why it’s done?

In order to improve stability or reduce pain in your spine, two or more vertebrae may be permanently fused together. Spinal fusion may be recommended for:

  • Spinal malformations. Spinal fusions can be used to diagnose and treat spinal curvature disorders, such as scoliosis.
  • The spine is weak or unstable. If two vertebrae move abnormally or excessively, your spine can become unstable. Spinal arthritis is frequently responsible for this condition. The most common solution for such problems is spinal fusion.
  • Disk herniation. After removing a damaged (herniated) disk from the spine, spinal fusion can help stabilize the spine.


It is generally safe to undergo a spinal fusion. Nevertheless, spinal fusions are subject to potential complications as well, as with any surgical procedure.

Complications that may arise include:

  • Infection
  • Poor wound healing
  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Injury to blood vessels or nerves in and around the spine
  • Pain at the site from which the bone graft is taken

Prepare yourself

The area around the surgical site can be cleaned with an antiseptic soap or a special soap prior to surgery. Moreover, the surgical team might take a swab sample to monitor for bacteria in your nose that are unhealthy. You should let your doctor know if you have been prescribed any medications. Before the surgery, some medications may need to be stopped.


In spinal fusion procedures, you are unconscious during the procedure since you are under general anesthesia.

The techniques used to perform spinal fusion surgery have been developed by many surgeons. As well as the location and the reason for the spinal fusion, your surgeon will consider your general health and body shape as well as the technique he or she will use.

In general, the following steps are involved:

The incision. For the surgeon to access the spine being fused, he or she makes an incision at one of three sites: directly over the spine directly in the neck or the back, either side of the spine, or in the abdomen or throat in order to access the spine from the front.

Preparation of an organ graft. Bone grafts are used to treat fused vertebrae either from a bone bank or your own body, usually your pelvis as a source. Your own bone will be used in the procedure, so an incision will be made above your pelvis bone. An incision is made, a portion is removed, and the incision is then closed.

The fusion. A bone graft material is inserted between the vertebrae to permanently fuse them together. For the time being, the vertebrae can be held together using metal plates, screws, or rods.

A synthetic substance may sometimes be used in place of bone grafts by some surgeons. As a result, the bones grow faster and the vertebrae fuse faster.

After spinal fusion

Many patients will be hospitalized for two to three days after spinal fusion. Pain medication usually provides sufficient relief after surgery. Patients may still experience discomfort after surgery.

If you experience symptoms of infection after returning home, contact your doctor.

  • Shaking chills
  • Fever higher than 100.4 F (38 C)
  • Redness, tenderness, or swelling
  • Wound drainage

In the months following an injury to the spine, the bones may fuse together. Wearing a brace may be required if you have trouble keeping your spine aligned. As one of their services, physical therapists provide assistance with moving, sitting, standing, and walking.

What conditions spinal fusion procedure treat?

There are several orthopedic conditions for which spinal fusion surgery may be beneficial. Degenerative disc disease, scoliosis, and spondylolisthesis are all common disorders of the spine.

Spinal instability is a form of spondylolisthesis. A forward-sliding vertebra presses on the spinal cord under this condition. Not only can it cause back pain, but it can also damage the buttocks and legs. Football, weightlifting, and gymnastics are common sports that can lead to spondylolisthesis. Families are also at risk. An individual may experience spondylolisthesis due to the degeneration of one or more of their facet joints or due to the fracture of the bones between the facet joints of the spine. Pars fractures or spondylolysis are those that occur in this manner.

Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is characterized by the degeneration and loss of function of intervertebral discs and facet joints. Traumatic trauma and degenerative conditions like osteoporosis and osteoarthritis can lead to spine fractures. Instabilities and deformities of the spine can result from fractures.

Conditions such as scoliosis and kyphosis affect the spine. Adults may develop deformities from injuries or certain genetic conditions, or they may be present at birth or develop during puberty. As well as neuromuscular disease and osteoporosis, they may occur due to other causes.


Fractures, deformities, and instability along the spine can usually be treated by spinal fusion. There are mixed results when there is no clear explanation for back or neck pain. Fusion of the spinal column is rarely more effective than nonsurgical treatments for back pains without specific causes.

Even if an X-ray shows you have a herniated disk or bone spurs, it can be difficult to determine the cause of your back pain. People with X-ray evidence of undiagnosed back problems never experience pain. Therefore, your pain might not be linked to the imaging scans you had done.

Although spinal fusions provide some relief for symptoms, they do not prevent back pain from occurring again. Surgery cannot cure your body of arthritis, which causes most of the degenerative conditions in the spine. As a result of fused sections of the spine, the surrounding areas are put under additional strain. Consequently, you may require additional spinal surgery in the future if those areas of your spine continue to degenerate.