Lumbar Spinal Fusion and The Lumbar Spine

Lumbar Spinal Fusion

Table of Contents

Lumbar Spinal Fusion
Most Common Causes of Lumbar Back Pain
Your Visit With The Surgeon
Getting Yourself Ready For Surgery
Understanding Back Precautions
Making Arrangements For Surgery
Your Hospital Visit
Lumbar Spinal Fusion Surgery
Recovery At Home
When To Call Your Surgeon
Long Term Care For Your Back

Lumbar Spinal Fusion

Your surgeon has evaluated your back pain. Following an exam, x-rays, and other diagnostic tests, your surgeon has recommended lumbar spinal fusion to treat your back pain problem. The purpose of spinal fusion is to relieve your pain by stopping the movement in the spinal segment that is causing your problem. Lumbar spinal fusion is performed through an incision in your back, or an incision in your abdomen, depending on the cause of your problem. This booklet will answer many questions about your surgery, and hopefully put some of your fears to rest. Share it with your family. It explains what will happen before, during, and after lumbar spinal fusion surgery. But, it cannot answer all of the questions you might have about your own back problem and the treatment of it. Your surgeon can answer any questions you and your family may still have after reading this booklet.

This booklet covers general information about lumbar spinal fusion. Your surgeon can give you more information about topics in this booklet. Also, he may tell you about treatments for you that are not in this booklet. If information in this booklet does not agree with information your surgeon tells you, follow your surgeon’s advice. This booklet is not meant to replace the advice of your doctor, surgeon, therapist, nurse, or any member of your healthcare team.

The Lumbar Spine

Bones and disks of lumbar spine

Bones, disks and facet joints of lumbar spine

Vertebrae are the 24 bones that appear to be chained together to make up the backbone (spine). The lumbar spine is made up of the five lumbar vertebrae located between the thoracic spine and the sacrum. This area is commonly called the “lower back”. The lumbar vertebrae are the largest of the vertebrae because of their weight-bearing function. The vertebrae provide protection and support for the spinal cord. The spinal nerves pass through a large hole in the center of each vertebrae, called the spinal canal. The lumbar spinal nerves exit at each level between the vertebrae. The joints between the vertebrae contain a disk (intervertebral disk) that acts as a shock absorber. Ligaments support and strengthen (make it stable) the spine. Muscles support and move the spine. Arteries supply the vertebrae, ligaments, and muscles with nourishment.

A spinal segment is made up of two vertebrae, the intervertebral disk between them, and the two spinal nerves that exit from each side of the spinal cord.

For more information about the Anatomy, Structure and Function of the Lower Back.

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