A work injury can have a big impact on your life and affect your ability to work. If you’ve experienced an injury at your Georgia Workplace, you may need a medical procedure such as a spinal fusion to assist with your recovery. To better understand if a spinal fusion is the right option for you, it’s important to know the details of this procedure, the role it plays in treating pain and disability, and how a spinal fusion may facilitate your return to work.
Whether your injury is the result of an accident at work or chronic wear and tear, it’s essential to make the right connection between your employment history and your injury to ensure that your Georgia employer gives you the benefits that you deserve for your recovery and lost wages.
This can be a difficult process with many roadblocks along the way. That’s why one of our Georgia workers’ compensation lawyers at Gearhart Law Group can assist you in overcoming these challenges to get you the benefits that you need.
What is Spinal Fusion?
Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure used to treat injuries of the spine, either your low back or neck, by joining two or more vertebrae together with using hardware such as metal screws, rods, or plates. This process of fusing the bones in the spine is designed to stabilize the spine and limit any movement between vertebrae that could be causing pain, instability, or other neurological problems. In many cases, this procedure is used when several other treatment approaches have failed at eliminating pain or restoring function.
Spinal fusion is a relatively involved surgery compared to many others, but often can be completed in as little as a few hours depending on the specific needs of the procedure. During the procedure, your surgeon will ensure the area is ready for fusion by removing any additional damaged tissue before placing metal screws and rods to keep your vertebrae in place. This procedure typically requires a few days of observation afterwards and often involves a longer recovery than other spine surgeries.
Spinal fusion surgery is commonly used to treat serious injuries in either the neck (cervical spine) or low back (lumbar spine). Depending on the specifics of your injury, a spinal fusion may be necessary in either area. It’s important to discuss your condition with your doctor to determine the best approach to your recovery.
What is Spinal Fusion Used For?
While spinal fusion surgeries are used to treat different conditions throughout the spine, they play an important role in recovering from a serious injury when other options have been unsuccessful.
A lumbar (low back) spinal fusion may be used to treat a wide range of conditions including spondylolisthesis or instability, severe degenerative disc disease, and complications from scoliosis. It is also used alongside other spine surgeries such as microdiscectomy (partial disc removal) or laminectomy (partial bone removal) to ensure that the spine remains stable and durable after surgery.
A cervical (neck) spinal fusion may be used to treat similar conditions in the neck, and can also be used to help treat neck problems caused by a whiplash injury.
Spinal fusion surgery can be effective in reducing pain and restoring mobility for many people. In most cases, the degree of improvement depends on the severity of an individual’s condition prior to the surgery as well as their recovery process. Your specific health history and lifestyle will also play a large role in your overall recovery after a spinal fusion.
One of the main goals of spinal fusion surgery is to enable individuals to return to their regular daily activities and work. Depending on your individual circumstances and profession, you may be able to return to full or part-time work after a few months. It’s important to discuss any restrictions with your doctor prior to returning to work so that you can make the best plan for your recovery.
Is Spinal Fusion Safe?
Spinal fusion surgery is generally considered a safe and effective procedure when performed by a qualified orthopedic or neurological surgeon. Before undergoing surgery of any kind, it’s important to discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor so that you can make the most informed decision for your health.
The most common side effects of spinal fusion include discomfort at the incision site and pain in the surgical region that may last for several weeks or months after surgery. Intermittent numbness or other neurological symptoms may be present intermittently following surgery, and in many cases are normal pieces of the recovery process. General stiffness and limited mobility in the area of the spine fused are also normal after surgery, and significant loss of flexibility is expected in the fused vertebrae segment due to hardware placement, which is permanent.
In some cases, individuals may not be good candidates for spinal fusion surgery due to the complexity of their condition or other contraindications. For example, those of very advanced age, those who have blood clotting disorders, and those living with severe osteoporosis may not be able to undergo this type of procedure. Other conditions such as obesity, anemia, and diabetes can also make a person ineligible for a major surgery and should be carefully discussed with your doctor.
Will I Need Other Treatments?
After a spinal fusion surgery, you will likely need additional treatments such as physical therapy to help regain strength and mobility in the fused area of your spine. Physical therapy is an important component of post-operative care after a spinal fusion that should be considered by most patients. Your physical therapist can help you regain range of motion, strength and endurance in the area that has been fused. They can also provide advice on how to modify activities or movements to minimize stress and strain on the spine while it is healing. Additionally, physical therapy can provide education on proper posture, ergonomics and other lifestyle changes that can help you return to your normal activities and work duties safely.
Additional treatments such as anti-inflammatory medications, hot/cold packs, epidural steroid injections, or nerve block injections may also be necessary before or after your fusion surgery depending on the nature of your condition. In some cases, additional surgeries may be recommended if healing does not occur properly or if new symptoms develop.
It’s important to discuss your specific needs with your doctor before and after the surgery. With the right guidance, you will be able to best determine the most effective treatments for you and help ensure that you make a full recovery.
Contact an Atlanta Injury Attorney
The Georgia workers’ compensation lawyers at The Gearhart Law Group represent victims of work-related injuries and assist them in receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Our lawyers understand how your employer and their workers’ compensation insurance companies try to save money by either denying your claim or by underpaying your claim. We know how to fight any objections they may have and pursue all the Georgia workers’ compensation benefits you deserve. Call us now so we can evaluate your individual case and advise you of your next legal steps as well as ensuring you are receiving the best medical care for your injuries.