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Common Types Of Spinal Surgeries Explained


Spinal surgeries are geared towards correcting spinal defects or injuries. The human spine is made up of discs, also called vertebrae that are firmly, yet flexibly joined together to allow the flexibility of the spine, as well as the protection of the nerves and living cells that run through the spine. Any stress on the spine can cause a chipping/ breakage of a vertebra, in effect causing parts of the damaged disc or adjacent discs to press on nerves. Nerve pinching can cause extremely painful backaches that not only limit a person’s mobility, but may also affect the flow of signals and blood to lower body organs. Whereas small spinal damages may only cause discomfort and can be managed through increased exercise or painkillers, severe spinal damages are debilitating and require surgery to correct.

Types of spinal surgeries

Bone Graft

This spinal surgery aims at triggering bone growth and or bridging a spinal gap by providing the necessary support between two healthy spinal bones/ discs. In this surgery, surgeons harvest a piece of a bone (called graft) from a patient (called autograft) or from another person/ bone bank (called allograft). The harvested graft is transferred to the site that needs bone bridging or bone healing. Autografts, more often than not, contain living cells, and may therefore trigger fast stimulation of bone growth, and the consequent fusion of the graft and the site’s bones. Allografts, on the other hand, do not contain living cells, and, therefore, take longer to heal. Although allografts take a long time to heal and have a high risk of transmitting illnesses to the new site, they are highly recommended in situations where the patient does not have sufficient graft for transplant.

Spine fusion

In some instances, spinal surgery can be conducted to bind two spinal discs permanently in a process called spine fusion. Spine fusion surgery is commonly applied to correct abnormal spinal curvatures, degenerated vertebrae-connecting-disks, protruding disks, and vertebrae injuries. In binding adjacent spinal components, spine fusion surgery reduces uncontrolled motion of the affected parts of the spine, in effect reducing extreme pain or the pinching of nerves that get in the way of the moving disks’ paths. More often than not, surgeons screw metal rods on rigid spine disks. Whereas it is expected that the permanent binding of the spinal structure (on the particular parts) may reduce motion, some people register increased mobility as they no longer have to worry about the pain that was hampering movement in the first place.

Spinal injuries can be mild, causing mere discomforts, or severe, affecting the quality of life a person lives. Thankfully, spinal surgeries can correct most spinal defects or injuries, in effect reducing backache pain and increasing an individual’s flexibility and health of lower body organs. Depending on a person’s spinal injury/ defect, a surgeon can recommend a spine fusion or a bone graft.

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