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Lower Spine News

Results Five Years after Lumbar Spinal Fusion

Don't expect miracles with your spinal fusion. The goal is to get rid of pain, but the result is more often just pain reduction. This study shows a high rate of pain, even five years later.

Researchers used a series of questions and a pain drawing. They mailed them to patients who had lumbar spinal fusion. Patients drew their pain location and pain types on a figure of a human body (front and back, including feet).

The results were the same whether the patient had bone graft alone or bone graft and screws. Screws are used to keep the bones from moving while the graft heals. The authors report that women in the study were less likely to return to work and more likely to show signs of psychologic distress.

Only 21 percent of the patients surveyed were without pain. This means 79 percent reported some low back pain. Almost as many (69 percent) had some kind of leg pain, too. Ten to 15 percent complained of pain at the donor graft site (pelvic bone).

The authors conclude that only one in five patients who had lumbar spinal fusion were pain-free five years later. Pain drawings and questions about work, social status, smoking status, and function were reliable measures of outcome.

Thomas Anderson, et al. Pain 5 Years after Instrumented and Non-instrumented Posterolateral Lumbar Spinal Fusion. In European Spine Journal. August 2003. Vol. 12. No. 4. Pp. 393-399.


*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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