Spinal fusion surgery is performed on patients who have chronic back pain. If you suffer from this type of pain, your doctor may consider you to be a candidate for this procedure. After surgery, you may still have some pain, which can be treated with narcotic pain medications, antidepressants and anti-inflammatory medications. Physical therapy also may be used as part of your recovery and pain management process.
When you have spinal fusion surgery, your doctor will connect two vertebrae in your back in hopes of improving your chronic pain symptoms. It is important to remember that this surgery is not a guaranteed cure for all back pain. You may still have spinal fusion pain as a result of the surgery during the healing process. Nerve ending damage or an infection resulting from the surgery also can cause future spinal fusion pain.
Immediately following surgery you may be given non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication to reduce your spinal fusion pain. This type of medication can be very strong and is usually given only for a short time after a procedure. Some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications are not recommended for long-term use because they can cause renal failure and other complications when used too frequently.
If you have severe pain after your surgery, your doctor may send you home with a prescription for narcotic pain medication. Narcotics can provide significant relief for your back pain. It is important to keep in mind that narcotics are considered highly addictive and some medical professionals will not prescribe them for extended use.
Neuropathic pain medications or a low-grade antidepressant also may be prescribed for you after surgery. Depending on your symptoms, you may be placed on these medications long-term because their nerve-pain-reducing qualities. Medications that fall into these classes are not addictive and may play a large role in your pain management treatment if your surgery has not corrected your back pain.
Your doctor will likely want you, as a spinal fusion pain patient, to enroll in physical therapy. You will work with a physical therapist who can help you with walking, swimming and other exercises. This routine will help you to get back on track after surgery and also can help to reduce your pain level over time. A back brace may need to be worn during this period.
It is vital to keep in contact with your doctor after surgery. Let your doctor know if your current pain treatments are not working. Your healthcare provider may be able to alter your treatment so you can have more pain-free days and a higher quality of life.