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In cases where a patient’s arthritis has progressed and caused spinal instability, lumbar fusion is often recommended.
This minimally invasive procedure fuses two or more vertebrae together to give strength and stability to the back. The procedure requires a bone graft, which is most often taken from the patient’s pelvis or hip. Screws and rods may also be inserted for additional support. By using hardware to secure the vertebrae, recovery is hastened.
Fusion surgery, which is completed using minimally invasive methods, is helpful in treating spondylolysis – a stress fracture that can occur in the fourth or fifth lumbar vertebrae. If the fracture weakens and causes the vertebrae to shift out of place, spondylolisthesis results. This is when nerves are compressed, causing pain and numbness. Fusion surgery can correct this condition, which is frequently diagnosed in gymnasts, weight lifters and football players.
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