Arthrodesis is the fusion of vertebrae over a joint space. It can happen through a natural process or as a result of some surgical procedure. In surgery, arthrodesis can be achieved by placing bone graft and/or bone graft substitute to bridge the vertebrae so that new bone grows into the spaces.

Arthrodesis immobilizes the joints at the level of the fusion. Thus, the procedure can be used to treat pain caused by the motion or instability of the spine.

What is Arthrodesis?

Arthrodesis refers to the fusion of two or more bones in a joint. In this process, the diseased cartilage is removed, the bone ends are cut off, and the two bone ends are fused into one solid bone with metal internal fixation. There is no further motion in the joint, but it is stabilized and, most importantly, pain caused by instability is eliminated.

Indications

This procedure is commonly indicated for the treatment of vertebral fractures, in addition to maintaining stability of the lumbar spine during other, more extensive surgical procedures.

Spine Arthrodesis Surgery, for example, can help relieve symptoms of back problems such as:

  • Degenerative disc disease;
  • Spondylolisthesis;
  • Spinal stenosis;
  • Scoliosis;
  • Fractured vertebra;
  • Infection;
  • Herniated disc;
  • Tumor.

Arthrodesis: Recovery and rehabilitation

For short-term pain relief after surgery, some medication is usually prescribed. Many types of medications are available to help manage pain in this case, including opioids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and local anesthetics. Your doctor may use a combination of these medications to improve pain relief and minimize the need for opioids. However, it is still important to notice if there is constant pain for many days after the surgery was performed.

During the healing period of time, which can take up to a few months, the fused spine must be kept in proper alignment. As the patient regains strength, they’ll be able to slowly increase the activity level. 

Physical therapy usually starts at 6 weeks to 3 months after the surgery is performed. Furthermore, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and following your doctor’s instructions will greatly increase your chances of a successful outcome and faster recovery.