Spinal fusions are serious procedures that require months of rehabilitation and are often the last resort for patients experiencing severe back pain.
Choosing to undergo any type of back surgery is a major decision. Unfortunately, when this procedure is performed incorrectly, it can lead to devastating results.
If you have experienced or believe you are experiencing failed spinal fusion symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention, and also legal counsel.
You should not be held responsible for the physical, mental, emotional, and financial damage caused by someone else’s negligent actions. You should always be on the lookout for common problems after spinal fusion, but when those problems are preventable, you may have the right to legal recourse.
What Is Spinal Fusion?
Spinal fusion surgery is a complex surgery that involves fusing two or more bones in the spine with the goal of reducing pain.
During the procedure, medical professionals use hardware devices like metal plates, screws, or rods to hold the spine in position while inserting bone graft material to generate bone growth.
The surgery treats patients suffering from fractures, severe curvatures, and other painful or limiting back problems. More than 300,000 lumbar spinal fusions are performed every year in the United States.
What Are Common Problems After Spinal Fusion?
Spinal fusion success rates generally vary from 70% to 95% depending on the severity of the condition being treated. The skill of the surgeon and surgical staff is an often overlooked factor when determining success rate. Here are some of the common problems after spinal fusion you may experience.
Pain and Discomfort
It is common to experience some moderate level of pain after spinal fusion due to the incision and physical manipulation necessary to access your spine. This pain is often mitigated with over-the-counter or prescription pain medication and should lessen over time, as you would expect for any wound.
Temporary Physical Restrictions
After a spinal fusion, you must restrict movement to allow proper healing and avoid damage to other spine segments. Bending, lifting, and twisting motions are typically limited from 4 to 6 weeks.
Muscle Stiffness and Weakness
The muscles surrounding your spine may become stiff and weak due to the long period of restricted movement. This weakness is usually addressed during physical therapy, though it may be inconvenient for some time. Physical therapy generally involves a strength and flexibility rehabilitation plan.
Surgery puts a lot of stress on the body, especially spinal fusion. Over the first two weeks post-op, prioritizing sleep is necessary for recovery.
One of the goals of spinal fusion is to allow space for compressed nerves. As they open backup and restore functionality, you may expect irritation resulting in pain, numbness, or tingling in the back, legs, or arms. These sensations should be temporary.
Failed Spinal Fusion Symptoms
Postoperative pain after a spinal fusion is normal, but in most cases, it should begin to fade after a few weeks, even if it never completely goes away. For some patients, the goal is not to be pain-free, but to experience significantly less pain.
If common problems after spinal fusion continue to persist or worsen over time, you may be experiencing failed spinal fusion symptoms. The most common indicators that something is wrong include.
- Persistent, dull, and aching pain involving the back or legs;
- New or increased pain from the surgical site;
- Unexpected limitations on mobility;
- Inability to recuperate despite following doctor’s orders;
- Stabbing or sharp back pain;
- Frequent back spasms;
- Numbness or pain in the lower back and legs;
- Potential dependency on pain medication; and
- Sleeplessness, anxiety, and depression.
Depending on the circumstances of your injury, the symptoms you experience may differ from the ones listed above. If you have concerns about whether what you are feeling is normal, it is essential to contact a medical professional right away.
Filing a Failed Spinal Fusion Lawsuit
There is always risk with any medical procedure, but that risk should not be associated with the performance of the medical providers or equipment involved.
Doctors and other healthcare providers have a duty to adhere to a specific standard of care, and if that duty is breached, they may be liable for medical malpractice.
To have a valid claim for medical malpractice, the healthcare provider must have acted in a way that was outside of what a similarly situated medical professional would deem reasonable.
This is true for doctors, surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, and other healthcare professionals. A hospital or other medical facility could also be liable for breaching a duty of care to the patient.
Before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, you must apply for review by the New Mexico Medical Review Commission. A panel of attorneys and medical professionals will review the facts of your case, and your medical records, to determine whether you are eligible to file a lawsuit. Your attorney can help walk you through this process.
The hardware devices used in spinal fusion surgery can also be the source of common problems after a spinal infusion because of the discomfort of having a foreign object in the body.
The problems can be severe if the hardware is defective. If the hardware or other equipment used in a medical procedure is defective, whether because of a production problem, issue with the design, or failure to warn of known side effects, the manufacturer may be held liable.
Contact an Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today
The attorneys at Poulos & Coates have over 70 years of experience representing victims of medical malpractice. Spinal fusion surgeries are painful under the best of circumstances, and you should not have to suffer more than you already have.
We are the only New Mexico law firm dedicated to this area of law and have medical professionals on staff to ensure we are making the best possible decisions for the well-being and legal success of our clients. Contact us to schedule a case consultation.