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A 43-year-old member asked:

i have had a two-level spinal fusion (l5-s1). what is the best way to avoid (or prolong) adjacent disc disease?

3 doctor answers4 doctors weighed in
Dr. Ahmad M Hadied
Orthopedic Surgery 49 years experience
Not much : Accelerated adjacent segment degeneration is relatively common and concerns adverse effects following spinal fusion. It is believed that this accelerated degeneration is due in large part to increased mechanical stress on the adjacent motion segments. Stay in shape, do not gain weight.
Dr. Justin Esterberg
Orthopedic Spine Surgery 24 years experience
Fusion: I think the best ways to help minimize that risk are to stay active with low-impact activities such as swimming, cycling and to maintain good core strength. It is also important to avoid jobs that require a lot of repetitive heavy lifting as that will ultimately cause more "wear-and-tear" of your back.
Dr. David Lundin
Neurosurgery 27 years experience
Not Well understood.: I agree with the other providers but the reality is that "adjacent level disc degeneration" is not well understood. The stress from fusion may accelerate this by about 3%/year. However even with patients who have disc replacement over fusion get this condition as do patient who have simple laminectomy. Thus, there is likely a genetic component to who develops this and who does not.

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Last updated Oct 4, 2016

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