The pain that results from a herniated disc or other spinal injury or abnormality can be more than a chronic nuisance. It can be downright debilitating. Individuals who suffer from ongoing pain may benefit from spinal fusion surgery. The procedure involves the placement of a synthetic bone or bone graft into the space between two vertebrae. In some cases, more than two of these small bones are involved. the purpose of fusion is to limit the movement between the affected bones so as to alleviate nerve pressure and improve comfort.
Spinal Fusion Surgery
Spinal fusion surgery can be advantageous, but it is not a procedure to approach lightly. There are permanent effects of the process and it is important to us that each of our patients receives the full extent of information necessary to answer all of their questions prior to their decision regarding surgery. One of the important factors that patients need to assess is healing. The way the body heals after spinal surgery dictates the overall success of the fusion process. And there’s something that could present an issue: smoking.
Research has indicated that a smoker has double the chance of non-fusion than a patient who does not smoke. This is a significant rate increase in such a delicate procedure. Additional research into the effects of smoking point to nicotine as a potential cause for the higher risk of fusion failure. Nicotine prevents adequate blood flow throughout the body, and blood flow is integral to the integration of the bone graft to the affected vertebrae. Without nourishment and vascularization, bone growth cannot occur as it should. Additionally, studies indicate that nicotine also has an anti-inflammatory effect, which is counterproductive in the healing process.
Smoking Presents Numerous Risks
Smoking is an important topic of discussion prior to spinal fusion not only for its detrimental effect on the bones, but also for the long-term effects that smoking can have on the spine as a whole. While spinal fusion may repair one problem, the ongoing effects of smoking may be seen in the discs that sit between the bones of the spine. Over time, the lack of circulation in these structures can lead to degeneration (and other uncomfortable problems).
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We are here to help you regain comfort and mobility with appropriate treatments. For a consultation with Dr. Albert, call 212-606-1004 today! Dr. Albert serves NYC and surrounding areas.