Spinal Fusion in Work Comp
If you have ongoing back or neck pain, degenerative disc disease, and have exhausted all conservative treatment methods including medication, ice, rest, activity modification, physical therapy, and possibly injections, the doctor may recommend spinal fusion. The most common spinal fusion we see in workers’ compensation cases is the ALIF or anterior lumbar interbody fusion. In an ALIF fusion, the surgeon approaches the spine through the abdomen rather than the low back itself. Thereafter either a titanium (or PEEK) cage or allograft bone graft or bone graft substitute is used to stabilize the vertebral segments.
Another method is the PLIF fusion or posterior lumbar interbody fusion. The difference with this approach is that the surgeon approaches the spine from the back. Although the PLIF approach allows for fewer incisions, it allows for less removal of the disc space than the ALIF method. For this reason, we typically see more ALIF procedures done than PLIF.