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Advise - What keeps bone from fusing or growing?

SlancastvaSSlancastva Posts: 43
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:42 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

I am scheduled for an Axialif (pending approval from insurance company)on March 18.

I have learned that smoking keeps bone from growing so I plan to quit on surgery day and use nicotine gum. Is it the nicotine in cigarettes or the other chemicals that keeps bone from growing/fusing?

I am taking Voltaren for oa. My os informed me today that I would be taken off of it and not to take any NSAIDS because they prevent bone growth.

I am taking fish oil, cosamin asu, pycnogenol and boswellia for my oa. The os stated the fish oil and cosamin asu would be ok to keep taken but he was not sure about the other herb suppliments.

Does anyone who has oa and had a spinal fusion have any suggestion where I may be able to look or research whether or not I should stop taking the other suppliments?

Any thoughts, suggestion or personal experience controling your oa would be greatly appreciated.


Severe OA lumber, hips, knees
Hernited discs L2 to L5
Microdictemomy March 09 at L5
Re-hernition at L5 - July 09
Spinal Fusion scheduled for March 18, 2010 (Axialif)to fuse L5 and facet joints
Pain medicine Percocet 10/325 4 times a day and Voltaren


  • Hi there,

    Welcome. So wise of you to be doing your homework in advance. I have not had a fusion but was facing that or the revision microdiscectomy (which I opted for). I only know NSAIDs (ibuprofin, advil, anti-inflammatories) slow bone growth.

    Has your doctor suggested taking calcium supplement like OsCal? Unsure but I've been on it since I had my 1st back surgery and b/c of my age/sex. I only take it 1X/day.

    I think several folks here will help you and give you other ideas.

  • As far as what causes bone to grow or not grow there has been a number of topics on it. What type of grafting material will they be using for the fusion? As far as the smoking, I really think that is something that needs to be stopped up front. My surgeon won't take the risk of the surgery till he can verify with a blood test you are smoke free. As far as the chewing the gum it is no difference than smoking it is nicotine without the smell. Now the supplements you are taking they had me stop all of them. Part of the problem is the FDA doesn't regulate them so there can be more contained in the ingredient. For example on one of my surgery pre-test I had a issue with to high of potassium the number one ingredient in the multi-vitamin I was using was potassium. A couple days off the vitamins and potassium returned to normal. But i say you should always check with your surgeon. Also did your surgeon suggest a bone growth stimulator? One of the best things you can do to aid your fusion, in my opinion, is drink water and walk. Good luck with the surgery and I hope it all goes well for you. Take care.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Be sure to ask your doctor for a list of everything you need to avoid and when.

    For example, they will tell you to stop NSAID's before surgery but you will likely also be advised to avoid them post-surgically as well. I was told to avoid fish oil beginning 2 week prior. But each doctor gives out a different list. And yes, Nicotine is a problem so if you can get it out of your system now and it's good motivation to quit all together!

    For both my prior ACDF and now my spinal fusion I have had surgeon's that prescribe a spinal bone growth stimulator. I use my lumbar unit 24 hours a day. You can see if this is something your physician recommends.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,875
    do not depend on Internet articles.
    You need to discuss all of this with your doctor so that you know for sure what you can and cannot take prior to surgery
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • dilauro said:
    do not depend on Internet articles.
    You need to discuss all of this with your doctor so that you know for sure what you can and cannot take prior to surgery

    Thats the best advice period. ;)
  • I was told at my discharge to take 1 vitamin D p/ Day.
    Cant hurts as I work indoors and do not drink milk!
  • I think folks make a great point about discussing with your doctor what helps/hinders bone growth.

    I know I was told ibuprofin hinders it but I have no idea if it's all 'anti-inflammatories'. Oddly before my microdiscectomy (which is low risk of blood loss), my recent surgeon/hospital told me no herbal meds or tea b/c willow root which is in many of them is an anti-inflammatory. I was also told no excessive garlic or garlic supplements for the same reason. But it had to do with blood thinning vs. bone growth.

    The point...I think your doctor should share his/her thoughts with you. And I agree, it depends on what they are using.

    For example, my doctor if I ever need fusion will use some of my own vertabrae bone that he'd remove to get at the disc, crush it and mix it with a synthetic material. Others use cadavear or some of your hip bone. I think the one thing I've heard is the smoking is something to quit.
  • Hi! I'm one week post op 360 L4-5 fusion. OMG, it was so much more of a medical challenge than I expected! I expected a spinal surgery with back and leg pain. BUT...I am in my mid 40's, incrediably healthy, work out consistantly, eat very healthy, no meats, a little fish, seafood, chicken/turkey lots of fruits/veggies and only whole grains. I do drink socially, but I do not smoke. The reason I am telling you all this, it, it just didn't matter, this surgery kicked my butt!

    The most difficult part was breathing, it was just so hard. If there is anyway possible to stop smoking now, I know it's hard, but your body needs you to quit. You are going to go through so much with your surgery~you want it to be a success and to be able to begin your new pain free life! We are here to support you and help in any way we can!! Good luck, you can do this! You are strong!!!
  • Thank you all for the insight and encouragement. I have not smoked in 3 days. Big hug to me. lol.

    The surgeon will be using some of my bone from veterbra and synthicated bone.

    My os said fish oil and cosamin asu was ok on the suppliments but no others.

    I stopped the Voltaren 3 days ago, oh man, I can feel a difference in my knees. For some reason the Voltaren did not help much with back. Well on the positive side, I have meet some very nice people on this site and can smell alot of things again.

    Big Hugs to all.

  • hya, i had a tlif fusion and decompression and coflex spacer and instrumentation a year ago yesterday, and i couldnt take any nsaids at all, also i quit smoking the night before my surgery, using nothing to help, trust me after surgery you are not in much of a position to get outside to have a smoke anyway......its the nicotine in them that is the danger, as it inhibits the bone growers, and encourages the bone inhibitors....can be a factor in failed fusion, which you really dont want.

    on a brighter note, im a year out of surgery now, and although i will be far from pain free ever, im much improved, i have two things wrong with my back, and could only have one of them helped out with surgery, so this may be a factor in the amount ive healed....i went back to work three months after my surgery, and have done all sorts of things during the last year, camping, rock climbing, ice skating, cycling, horse riding, rowing, lots of walking and too many other fun things to list

    i came off all painkillers three weeks after surgery, and was driving by this point as well...so not all doom and gloom, but you need patience by the bucket load..........good luck
  • Thanks for the insight and I am so happy you are doing better. It is good to hear there is some light ahead.


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