Pinched nerve surgery options
Often, a pinched nerve can be treated with nonsurgical methods, such as physical therapy and pain medication. These conservative treatments should be prescribed by your physician and monitored over several months to measure any pain relief. If conservative treatments do not provide you with lasting pain relief from your pinched nerve, surgery may be considered.
Spine surgery is almost always considered the last resort option when all other treatments have failed. The ultimate goal of pinched nerve surgery is to remove pressure on the pinched nerve by removing the damaged part of the spine that is pressing against it. The most common causes of a pinched nerve in the spine include a herniated disc, bulging disc, bone spur and other degenerative spine conditions. The spine surgery you receive will be dependent on the cause of your pinched nerve.
Your options for spine surgery
Generally speaking, spine surgeries fall into one of two categories: open spine surgery and minimally invasive spine surgery. While both types of procedures strive to achieve nerve decompression, they are quite different in application:
- Open spine surgery — Open spine surgery is the traditional form of spine surgery. During an operation, the surgeon accesses the spinal column through a large incision in the back, often cutting and tearing through the muscles around the spine. One of the most common types of open spine surgery is known as spinal fusion, where a degenerated herniated disc is removed and replaced with a bone graft. The surrounding vertebrae are stabilized with rods and screws, and the graft eventually permanently fuses the bone together.
- Minimally invasive spine surgery — Minimally invasive procedures are a safer and effective alternative to open spine surgeries. During one of these procedures, the surgeon makes a small incision in the back and moves the muscles aside to access the spine. The damaged disc is removed and replaced with an artificial disc and bone graft. This is considered a minimally invasive stabilization surgery. Because this surgery is minimally invasive, patients experience a shorter recovery time^ and higher patient satisfaction rate than patients who choose traditional open spine surgery.
Making a decision
The decision to undergo pinched nerve surgery is difficult. The good news is that many people find the pain relief they are looking for from nonsurgical treatment. If, however, you continue to suffer from chronic neck or back pain, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more about our minimally invasive procedures.