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Spinal Fusion Specialist

Intervertebral disc injuries that aren't responding to non-surgical treatments might benefit from spinal fusion surgery. If you're finding other approaches fail to ease your back or neck pain, orthopaedic spine specialist Evan O'Brien, MD, and Chris Hennessey, PA, at Woodbury Spine, can help. At their practice in Woodbury, New Jersey, they specialize in performing discectomy and spinal fusion to stabilize your spine and relieve your pain. To take advantage of their expertise in spinal fusion, call Woodbury Spine to book an appointment.

Spinal Fusion Q & A

What is spinal fusion?


Spinal fusion is a type of surgery Dr. O'Brien

performs to stabilize your spine and relieve

persistent back or neck pain. Fusion has been a

successful treatment for many decades, helping

thousands of patients regain their mobility when

non-surgical methods are ineffective.

To perform spinal fusion, Dr. O'Brien removes

damaged intervertebral disc material (discectomy)

and inserts a piece of bone called a graft between

the vertebrae on either side. A bone graft could

be an autograft (comes from your body), an

allograft (from a donor), or be artificial.

The bone graft stimulates new bone growth,

which permanently fuses your vertebrae together.

Why might I need spinal fusion?

Spinal fusion is an option you might need to consider if you have chronic back or neck pain. The conditions that are most likely to require spinal fusion include:

  • Herniated discs

  • Degenerative disc disease

  • Spinal stenosis

  • Vertebral compression fractures

  • Spinal tumors

  • Scoliosis

  • Spondylolisthesis

Non-surgical treatments for these conditions, such as activity modification, physical therapy, and medication, are effective approaches that resolve chronic back pain for the majority of patients.

Dr. O'Brien also offers advanced, minimally invasive options, including epidural steroid injections, radiofrequency ablation, and spinal cord stimulation for more persistent symptoms.

If none of these methods is reducing your pain sufficiently, Dr. O'Brien can perform spinal fusion surgery.

How is spinal fusion carried out?

There are a number of different methods Woodbury Spine could use to perform spinal fusion surgery. These include:

  • Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF)

  • Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF)

  • Extreme lateral interbody fusion (XLIF)

  • Anterior cervical disc fusion (ACDF)

Each technique has certain advantages, so Dr. O'Brien's approach depends on factors like your weight, age, and other health issues you may have. He might use screws, plates, cages, and rods to support the vertebrae as the new bone grows.

If possible, Dr. O'Brien performs your fusion surgery using a minimally invasive approach, which reduces tissue damage and pain and promotes faster recovery.

How long does it take to recover from spinal fusion?

Spinal fusion is major surgery. You should expect to take 4-6 weeks off work or longer if you have a physically demanding job. Fusion takes between three and fifteen months as bone grows quite slowly. During this time, it's vital to avoid straining your back.

From around six weeks after your surgery, providing you're progressing as expected, you can start on a physical therapy program to strengthen the muscles in your spine and improve your range of motion. 

Pain should gradually decrease, but you might continue to experience some pain for up to six months following spinal fusion.

If you have chronic, disabling back or neck pain, spinal fusion could be an option. Find out by calling Woodbury Spine today to schedule an appointment.

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