Spinal fusion is a surgical technique that is performed to link together (“fuse”) one or more vertebrae within the spine so there is no longer motion between them. Fusion is still the gold standard for surgical treatment of painful discs and/or spinal instability.
Your spine is made up of individual bone segments called vertebrae. Strong connective tissue holds one vertebra to the next and acts as a cushion between the vertebrae. This cushion is called a disc, and is what allows us to bend our backs and necks forward, backward and side-to-side. The type and degree of motion depends on what level of the spine the vertebrae are located: cervical (neck), thoracic (chest), or lumbar (lower back).
When there is a problem with your spine (see “When is Spinal Fusion Necessary” below), Dr. Blankenship may recommend a spinal fusion to eliminate the motion of the affected portion of your spine in an effort to eliminate the source of your back problem.