23 Feb The Basics of Facet Fusion for Chronic Back Pain
A facet fusion is a surgical option available for patients with chronic back pain due to facet joint syndrome or spinal arthritis. With this procedure, the vertebrae in the painful area are fused together to stop joint movement. Eliminating joint movement stops the pain.
What are facet joints?
The facet joints of the spinal column are two joints between each of the 24 non-fused vertebrae that form the spine. These joints have a disc between them, and they are surrounded by fibrous ligaments. The facet joints are small, containing tiny amounts of synovial fluid that lubricates them for joint movement. With injury, aging, or damage, these joints can become painful and inflamed, particularly when loss of lubrication creates too much friction.
Who is a candidate for a facet fusion?
Before scheduling a facet fusion, the physician will want you to try a number of conservative treatments. These include anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroid injections, muscle relaxants, and pain medicine. In addition, you must have attempted physical therapy, spinal manipulation and traction for pain relief. Certain patients may not have this procedure, such as people with uncontrolled diabetes, those with a bleeding disorder, individuals with severe degenerative disease of the discs and vertebrae, and persons with an active infection.
How do I prepare for this procedure?
Because you will need to recover after the procedure, you should arrange to have a shower chair, install handrails on the stairways, and remove all loose rugs from floors. Arrange to have someone stay with you for a few nights after you come home from the hospital. You will need plenty of premade meals and water available. Before your procedure, you must fast for 8 hours. You are allowed to have your usual medications with a small sip of water. Notify the doctor if you are taking any agents that thin the blood.
How is spinal fusion performed?
After administering general anesthesia, the physician will clean the skin near the affected vertebrae. Using a local anesthetic, the skin and deeper tissues are numbed, which offers post-operative pain relief. A small incision is made on the skin of the area, and the doctor creates a channel used to access the bones. He then removes the damaged disc portions and replaced them with bone graft material. The joints are fused together using the disc material, which stabilizes the spine. The surgeon closes the incision using sutures or steri-strips, and a bandage is applied over the area.
What are the benefits of facet fusion surgery?
With minimally invasive techniques used, patients experience a quicker recovery. After fusing the facet joints, there will be no further mobility or motion in this area, so joint pain is relieved. Fusion provides the relief needed, which allows patients to go about usual activities. Fusion is a minimally invasive procedure, and does not often result in complications such as bleeding, nerve damage, or infection.
Another benefit of this surgery, is that the facet fusion only takes 45-60 minutes to perform. Most patients only have to say one night at the hospital. Because there is little muscle or tissue manipulation, rehabilitation is not painful or lengthy.
Does the facet fusion procedure work?
In a recent radiological follow-up study, researchers assessed the efficacy and safety rates associated with instrumented facet fusion of the lumbar and lumbosacral spine regions. The clinical study involved 99 people with degenerative disc disease who had been treated conservatively for more than 2 years. The researchers found that after facet fusion, the 2-year success rate was 96%, with a 99% efficacy rate for one-level fusion procedures. Overall, the procedure was found to be a safe, simple, and effective option for the treatment of patients with degenerative spondylolisthesis and other spinal disorders.
Inspired Spine has developed a patented procedure for patients that involves less blood loss, faster recovery and amazing pain relief. The fusion surgery takes less than an hour, and most patients are able to go home the same day. Call us today for the best pain relief imaginable in the least invasive way!