Spinal Fusion Surgery

By Last updated on April 5th, 2020 Last updated on April 5th, 2020 No Comments

Spinal Fusion Surgery

If a person’s back pain has persisted for a long period of time and non-invasive treatments are not working they may have to opt for spinal fusion surgery. This may be necessary because of one of several complex spinal conditions including scoliosis, spinal fractures, degenerative disk disease, and other spinal disorders. The surgery can eventually alleviate pain symptoms in patients but is often costly and highly invasive. There may be a much less invasive and more cost-effective alternative found in stem cell therapies.

Spinal fusion surgery is typically a final solution for those who have serious back pain due to the aforementioned conditions. The spinal disk, which functions as a cushion between two vertebrae, has the potential to erode over time. During spinal fusion surgery, the spinal disk is removed completely and replaced with a bone graft that has been taken from the patient’s, or a donor’s, bone marrow. This means that two incisions must be made – one to collect the bone marrow and one to replace the disk in the spine.

The grafted bone marrow then proceeds to fuse the vertebrae together, which does not always work. The recovery for this surgery involves many days of bed rest and months of physical therapy. It’s highly likely that the patient will take years to recover their full health.

Additionally, these surgeries are not typically covered by insurance unless deemed absolutely necessary. As with any invasive surgery there are risks involved that could include infection, rejection of the bone graft, and, in many cases, increased pain.

While the success rate of these surgeries in terms of pain reduction is about 90%, the process of extracting the bone marrow has a failure rate of up to 35%. With so many potential complications, it makes sense that people are turning to less invasive treatments. What if there was a way to alleviate back pain without such an intrusive process? Stem cell therapy might be the answer.

Currently, there are thousands of clinical trials underway to help progress our understanding of stem cells’ application in the world of spinal disorders. Many of the results which have been gathered conclude that there is potential for a less harmful procedure involving stem cell injections directly into an area that is causing pain.

Many trials have also been conducted to see the effects of stem cell treatments specifically for back pain due to disk damage. Stem cells work by calling the body’s natural healing factors and promoting repair in damaged tissue. In the case of a damaged disk, the stem cells would signal the body to help rebuild the cartilage around it. This procedure only involves injection making it much less invasive than spinal fusion surgery. Furthermore, it is typically less expensive.

Many patients have been turning to stem cell therapies to help with other similar conditions such as arthritis, which also occurs due to the degradation of the cushioning soft tissues between joints. The clinical trials which have been done show promising results for diseases involving tissue degeneration. Stem cells are able to stimulate the growth of many different types of cells, but most predominantly they help repair soft tissue, muscle, and bone.
Though discs’ erosion is a major cause of back pain sometimes pain is caused due to damage in the bone itself. This means that stem cell therapies can not only repair and help rebuild a damaged disc, they can also repair a damaged bone. With spinal fusion surgery, the vertebrae are at risk of further damage because the disk is removed completely and no longer serves as a cushion between them.

If a patient is facing a potential spinal fusion surgery, they should also consider stem cell therapies as an alternative. The success rate is high and overall satisfaction is greater as stem cell therapies offer a virtually nonexistent recovery time, are cheaper, and do not produce permanent scars. For further information, consult our offices at CELLAXYS.

Dr. Pouya Mohajer

Dr. Pouya Mohajer

Director of Regenerative Interventional Spine Medicine
Board certification in Anesthesiology and Interventional Pain Medicine
Fellowship-trained from Harvard University
UCLA Alumni