Spinal decompression is a medical procedure used to relieve back pain. When back pain is caused by compression or pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots, spinal decompression may be an effective method of stretching the spine and taking the pressure off the nerves or spinal cord. There are two types of spinal decompression: non-surgical and surgical.
Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression
Non-surgical spinal decompression uses motorized traction to stretch the spine gently. It takes the pressure off the spinal disks so that herniated or bulging disks can retract. Consequently, the pressure is taken off the nerve roots and other parts of the spine.
What Conditions Does Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression Treat?
Doctors use this procedure to treat:
- Back or neck pain
- Herniated or bulging disks
- Degenerative disk disease
- Injured spinal nerve roots
- Worn spinal joints
Surgical Spinal Decompression
Spinal decompression surgery is used to relieve symptoms caused by excessive pressure on the spinal cord. It can treat irritation and other symptoms caused by the narrowing of spinal nerve openings or the spinal canal due to loosened ligaments, bony growths, bulging or herniated discs and thickened joints.
Types of Surgical Decompression Techniques
Orthopedic surgeons use various types of surgical decompression strategies, including:
- Discectomy: Take out part of a spinal disc to reduce pressure on nearby nerve roots.
- Laminotomy: Remove a tiny part of the lamina. The lamina is the bony arch of the spinal canal.
- Laminectomy: Remove the entire lamina to increase the size of the spinal canal.
- Foraminotomy: Extract some bone to increase the openings for nerve roots to come out of the spinal cord.
- Foraminectomy: Take out a large quantity of bone to expand the openings for nerve roots.
- Osteophyte Removal: Extract bony growths called bone spurs or osteophytes.
- Corpectomy: Remove a vertebra and spinal discs.
In many cases, depending on the condition of the spine, more than one surgical technique may be used to stabilize the spine.
What Is the Recovery Process for Surgical Spinal Decompression?
You may need to stay in the hospital for up to five days and will receive pain-relieving medication. After, you will need to participate in physical therapy. Rehabilitation may take several weeks.
What Is the Success Rate for Surgical Spinal Decompression?
In over 80 percent of patients, surgery to relieve pressure on nerve roots produces a successful outcome. It is important to note that surgery may not be able to stop the wear and tear of the vertebrae due to aging.
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