Workers comp lumbar fusion treats disc herniation, which occurs when the nucleus in the center of the disc pushes out of its normal space. The nucleus presses against the annulus, causing the disc to bulge outward. Sometimes the nucleus herniates completely through the annulus and squeezes out of the disc. This happens with a single lifting incident at work, often following years of repetitive job duties of lifting, twisting and turning.
Although daily activities may cause the nucleus to press against the annulus, the body is normally able to withstand this pressure. However, as the annulus ages, it tends to crack and tear. It is repaired with scar tissue. This process is known as degeneration. Over time, the annulus weakens, and the nucleus may begin to herniate (squeeze) through the damaged annulus. At first, the pressure bulges the annulus outward. Eventually, the nucleus may herniate completely through the outer ring of the disc.
Vigorous, repetitive bending, twisting, and lifting can place abnormal pressure on the shock-absorbing nucleus of the disc. If great enough, this increased pressure can injure the annulus, leading to herniation.
A lumbar disc can also become herniated during an acute (sudden) injury. Lifting with the trunk bent forward and twisted can cause a disc herniation. A disc can also herniate from a heavy impact on the spine, such as falling from a ladder and landing in a sitting position.
A posterior lumbar fusion is the most common type of fusion surgery for the low back. A fusion is a surgical procedure that joins two or more bones (in this case vertebrae) together into one solid bone. The procedure is called a posterior fusion because the surgeon works on the back, or posterior, of the spine. Other procedures are usually done along with the spinal fusion to take the pressure off nearby nerves. They may include removing bone spurs and injured portions of one or more discs in the low back. Most surgeons also apply metal screws and rods, called instrumentation, to hold the bones securely while they fuse.
The main goal of the spinal fusion (also known as an arthrodesis) is to stop movement of one or more vertebrae. Keeping the fused section from moving helps stop mechanical pain. Mechanical pain occurs when damaged discs and joints that connect the vertebrae become inflamed from excessive motion between the vertebrae. This type of pain is commonly felt in the low back and may radiate into the buttocks and upper thighs.
McCormick Law Office attorneys get the best results in workers comp lumbar fusion when there is trustworthy documentation of injury and reliable job duties accurately reflecting the lifting, twisting and turning on the job.