March 27, 2019 A new report cites better diagnostic testing procedures and the ongoing health care needs of an aging population as fueling the demand for spinal fusion surgery throughout the United States. In Oklahoma, nearly 20 percent of the population is over the age of 60 and roughly 40 percent of these suffer from chronic pain and limited mobility issues Addressing Back and Neck Problems Associated with Aging The spine contains numerous bones and soft tissues. All of which can begin to deteriorate as you age. According to Dr. Jason Sparks of Spine & Orthopedic Specialists Tulsa, “Normal wear and tear combined with accidental injuries and chronic health conditions often leave patients over the age of 60 suffering with limited mobility and chronic pain.” Fortunately, advances in diagnostic testing are better able to pinpoint the underlying causes of pain and discomfort. This includes the lumbar and cervical regions so that they can be effectively treated by health care professionals. Once conditions commonly suffered by older adults, such as degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, and spinal stenosis, are identified through x-rays, computerized tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); spinal fusion surgery can then repair the damage. “As a minimally invasive procedure, spinal fusion surgery often allows patients to return home the same day. Equally important, they can also resume normal activities in as little as a week,” says Dr. Sparks. This is good news for people in Tulsa and throughout Oklahoma. According to statistics from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS); roughly 20 percent of the states nearly four million residents are over the age of 60. Of these, almost 40 percent report experiencing physical disabilities that limit their mobility. More effective diagnosis of these conditions, which often involve the back and neck region; will fuel the demand for spinal fusion surgery in the years to come.