Spinal Fusions, Complications, and Pain

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low back fusion complications

Medpage has recently run an interesting series on spinal fusions and the use of BMP’s to promote fusion. I have blogged on some of the problems with these new BMP drugs used to promote low back fusion.  They also recently highlighted a patient with severe pain following such a low back fusion that I think brings up an important point. As I’ve blogged before, spinal fusions artifically limit normal spinal motion and overload the vertebral segments above and below the fusion. This often leads to new areas of spinal degeneration above and below the area of fusion and new area of pain generation. In fact, the first thing I think about when I see  post low back fusion complications of a patient in pain is if the facet joints or nerves above or below the fusion are involved. In general these patients tend to do well right after surgery, but then are in pain again within the first few months after surgery. Having said all of this, fusion is still a viable option for those patients who are severely unstable or for whom there is no other option, however, we no longer consider it to be routine appropriate next step for patients who have failed conservative care, but rather a giant leap into an unknown therapy.

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
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Many Shoulder and Rotator Cuff injuries are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering shoulder arthroscopy or shoulder replacement, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.

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Knees are the target of many common sports injuries. Sadly, they are also the target of a number of surgeries that research has frequently shown to be ineffective or minimally effective. Knee arthritis can also be a common cause for aging athletes to abandon the sports and activities they love. Regenerative procedures can be used to treat a wide range of knee injuries and conditions. They can even be used to reduce pain and delay knee replacement for more severe arthritis.

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Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

  • Herniated, Bulging, Protruding Discs
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Hip injuries and degenerative conditions become more common with age. Do to the nature of the joint, it’s not quite as easy to injure as a knee, but it can take a beating and pain often develops over time. Whether a hip condition is acute or degenerative, regenerative procedures can help reduce pain and may help heal injured tissue, without the complications of invasive surgical hip procedures.

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