I have so many clients who have suffered the misfortune of sustaining a serious back injury at work. Some injured workers can be treated with physical therapy or injections, while others require surgery or surgeries. The back and spine are areas that have so many nerves running through them; many people are fearful of having their back operated on.
While I would never wish back surgery on anyone, I wanted to share a few tidbits from an article by Peter F. Ullrich, Jr., M.D., explaining more on what takes place during a spinal fusion surgery (taken from www.spinen-health.com).
Lumbar Spinal Fusion Surgery
By: Peter F. Ullrich, Jr., M.D
“A spinal fusion surgery is designed to stop the motion at a painful vertebral segment, which in turn should decrease pain generated from the joint.
There are many approaches to lumbar spinal fusion surgery, and all involve adding bone graft to an area of the spine to set up a biological response that causes the bone graft to grow between the two vertebral elements and create a fusion, thereby stopping the motion at that segment.”
How Spinal Fusion Surgery Works
“At each level in the spine, there is a disc space in the front and paired facet joints in the back. Working together, these structures define a motion segment and permit multiple degrees of motion. Two vertebral segments need to be fused together to stop the motion at one segment, so that an L4-L5 (lumbar segment 4 and lumbar segment 5) spinal fusion is actually a one-level spinal fusion.
A spine fusion surgery involves using bone graft to cause two vertebral bodies to grow together into one long bone. Bone graft can be taken from the patient’s hip (autograft bone) during the spine fusion surgery, harvested from cadaver bone (allograft bone) or manufactured (synthetic bone graft substitute).”
Types of Spinal Fusion
“There are several types of spinal fusion surgery options, including:
Posterolateral gutter fusion – the procedure is done through the back
Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF/TLIF) – the procedure is done from the back and includes removing the disc between two vertebrae and inserting bone into the space created between the two vertebral bodies
Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) – the procedure is done from the front and includes removing the disc between two vertebrae and inserting bone into the space created between the two vertebral bodies
Anterior/posterior spinal fusion – the procedure is done from the front and the back”
I hope you found Dr. Ullrich’s article to be as helpful and informative as I did!
If you are facing the possibility of having a lumbar surgery, or any surgery as the result of a work injury, it is ALWAYS a good idea to consult with an attorney to ensure your rights are protected. My staff is knowledgeable, friendly and waiting to assist you; please do not hesitate to contact my office.
Michele Lewane, Esq.
About the Author: Michele Lewane
The Injured Workers Law Firm is a Richmond, Virginia based firm solely focused on serving clients with workers' compensation claims in Virginia. If you have questions about your benefits or if you would like more information on the Virginia workers’ compensation system, order our book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” , or call our office today (804) 755-7755.