Understanding surgical decompression

Surgical decompression of the spine describes a procedure that aims to release pressure placed on spinal nerves. Decompression can be achieved by removing the material that is exerting this pressure, or by widening the openings, called foramina, through which the spinal nerves travel as they exit the spinal cord. Releasing the stress on spinal nerves often is necessary when pain, tingling, numbness or weakness in the neck, back and extremities make it impossible to live a full life and more conservative treatments have not been effective.

Causes of spinal nerve compression

There are many degenerative spine conditions that can eventually require surgical decompression, including:

  • Herniated discs. A torn spinal disc that extrudes inner fluid into the spinal canal. A herniated disc can be asymptomatic, but displaced disc tissue often interferes with spinal nerves.
  • Bulging discs. A disc that has bulged outside of its normal boundary but has not yet torn. This can compress surrounding spinal nerve roots or the spinal cord.
  • Osteophytes. Also called bone spurs, these are smooth growths of bone that your body produces in response to an arthritic spine. Bone spurs often appear in the facet joints and around the ridges of vertebrae.
  • Spinal stenosis. Narrowing of the spinal canal or foramina due to any of the above conditions, or other causes.

Surgical decompression procedures

Surgical decompression procedures can take a variety of forms, from highly invasive to minimally invasive. While a traditional open spine operation involves the removal of bone, discs and other tissues putting pressure on nerves, there can be significant drawbacks. This includes the use of a large incision, muscle trauma, scarring and extensive rehabilitation.

In contrast, minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute can decompress spinal nerve with the use of a less than 1-inch incision and other muscle-sparing techniques. This results in a streamlined outpatient experience, less risk of complications like infection and a shorter recovery time compared to traditional open spine procedures.^

Learn more about Laser Spine Institute

If you would like to find out more about minimally invasive spine decompression procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute today. To help you get started, we’ll review your MRI or CT scan at no cost* to determine if you are a potential candidate.