Anterior lumbar interbody fusion is a surgical procedure done through the abdomen to remove a diseased intervertebral disc and replace it with a spacer, thus restoring the disc height, decompressing the nerves, correcting deformity and fusing the vertebrae together in the corrected position.
Three main indications for ALIF:
Degenerative disc disease causing disc collapse with compression of the nerves and back pain
Spondylolisthesis, which is instability between the spine bones, when two vertebrae shift next to each other
Recurrent disc herniation
What are the goals of ALIF?
There are three main goals:
Restore height of the disc space and remove pressure from the surrounding nerves
Correct alignment of the bones
Remove abnormal movement by fusing the bones together
Most adults will have neck or back pain at some point in their lives. With several different spine specialists, how does a person decide who they should see?
Several specialties deal with spine problems: family doctors, sports medicine practitioners, chiropractors, physical therapists, neurologists, rheumatologists, pain management and spine surgeons (neurological and orthopaedic).
So, how do you decide whom you should go see? Here are several general rules to guide you.
Most spine-related problems will not require surgical treatment. There are few worrisome signs, however, that should prompt you to seek help from a surgeon:
High-energy trauma in a young healthy person or any trauma in an older person with brittle bones
Family history of cancer
Signs of infection: fever above 101.5, chills, night sweats
Weakness in the arms or legs
Loss of bowel or bladder control
Since most surgeons require an appointment to be seen in their office, it is usually quicker to visit an emergency department if you are having any of the above symptoms.
Most cases of back pain, neck pain, or even a pinched nerve, will resolve themselves within 8-10 weeks. To speed up recovery, short-term rest (no longer than 1-2 days), anti-inflammatory medications (like Advil or Aleve) and muscle relaxants may be helpful. A family doctor or an emergency medicine practitioner can prescribe these treatments.
Chiropractic manipulation and physical therapy are both effective options for relieving both muscle spasm and arthritic pain.
If the symptoms do not resolve after several weeks, it may be time to see a spine specialist like a pain management doctor or a surgeon. Sometimes a clinical picture may require a referral to a neurologist or a rheumatologist. The best bet is to discuss your symptoms with a family doctor. He or she will recommend which specialist to see based on your unique situation.
You can learn more about Dr. Nesterenko at his website drnesterenko.com or easily make an appointment with him by filling out the form below.