Surgical Spinal Decompression can be described as follows (see WebMD):
“Surgical spinal decompression is another option for treating certain types of back pain. But it is usually used as a last resort. If other measures don’t work, your doctor may suggest surgical spinal decompression for bulging or ruptured disks, bony growths, or other spinal problems. Surgery may help relieve symptoms from pressure on the spinal cord or nerves, including:
The Cleveland Clinic adds to the description above and states:
“Spinal decompression surgery is a general term that refers to various procedures intended to relieve symptoms caused by pressure, or compression, on the spinal cord and/or nerve roots. Bulging or collapsed disks, thickened joints, loosened ligaments and bony growths can narrow the spinal canal and the spinal nerve openings (foramen), causing irritation. Symptoms of spinal nerve compression include:
In severe cases, pressure on the spinal nerves can cause paralysis and problems with bladder and/or bowel function.”
The Cleveland Clinic goes further and provides the following as common techniques for surgical spinal decompression:
This involves removing a portion of a disk to relieve pressure on the nearby nerve roots.
Laminotomy or Laminectomy
These procedures involve removing a small part of the bony arches of the spinal canal, called the lamina. During a laminotomy, just a section of the lamina is removed. During a laminectomy, the entire lamina is removed. Removing the lamina increases the size of the spinal canal, relieving pressure.
Foraminotomy or Foraminectomy
Both procedures are performed to expand the openings for the nerve roots to exit the spinal cord by removing some bone and other tissue. A foraminectomy generally refers to a procedure that removes a large amount of bone and tissue.
This involves removing bony growths called osteophytes or bone spurs.
This is surgery to remove the body of a vertebra, as well as the disks.
A combination of techniques may be used; and in some cases, fusion of the vertebrae also is needed to stabilize the spine.
Any surgical procedure includes a certain degree of risk and Spinal Decompression Surgery is no different. Some of the risks include Nerve or tissue damage, blood clots, infection, bleeding and possible allergic reaction to anesthesia. Other factors that should be considered include the very expensive costs of the procedures and, more importantly, the effect on the body. It is invasive surgery, meaning that the back is cut open, and scarring is inevitable.
Although many surgical procedures are less invasive, this image illustrates the after-effects of major back surgery:
In some cases, this surgical procedure may be the only viable alternative for an otherwise debilitating back pain condition. However, before going under the knife, you are encouraged to consult with a Charleston chiropractor and explore the option of non-surgical spinal decompression therapy. In many cases, this will accomplish the desired results without the need for surgery.
Watch this video (warning, it is a bit graphic) to see an actual Diskectomy being performed which will provide an idea of what is involved with this form of Surgical Spinal Decompression: