Spinal narrowing surgery — is surgery my only treatment option?

Find lasting relief — explore spinal narrowing treatments with Laser Spine Institute's helpful article.

Spinal narrowing surgery is a treatment option for those experiencing severe symptoms from the spine condition called spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal for various reasons, such as age, bone spurs, herniated discs, bulging discs, thickened ligaments, facet joint cysts and other spine conditions that cause a protrusion in the structure of the spine. During spinal stenosis, the spinal canal narrows so that there is not much room between the walls of the spinal canal and the nerves in the spinal cord.

When a spine condition causes a component of the spine to move outside of its normal parameters, such as a bulging or herniated disc, the thin space between the spinal cord and the spinal canal becomes even smaller, and a nerve might be pinched. This is the cause of the local and radiating pain that is often felt by people diagnosed with spinal narrowing. The goal of spinal narrowing surgery is to open up space in the spinal canal and take pressure off pinched nerves by removing bone, disc and possibly other tissues in the spine.

If your physician has diagnosed you with spinal stenosis, you may be searching for treatment options to help alleviate your pain. Unfortunately, the spine conditions associated with spinal stenosis often worsen without treatment. You should begin to seek a treatment option as soon as you are diagnosed with spinal narrowing. Spinal narrowing surgery is typically the last treatment option recommended to patients after they have tried a range of nonsurgical treatments without success. Read on to learn more about the variety of treatment options available for your specific condition.

Treatment options for spinal stenosis

Before elective spinal narrowing surgery is considered, most patients begin treating spinal narrowing with conservative methods, such as physical therapy, chiropractic care and pain medication. Certain exercises and stretches are created to lengthen the spine and build the muscles in the back. This helps take some of the pressure off of your spinal canal and may help alleviate some of your back pain. Be sure to consult your doctor before you begin nonsurgical treatments for your spinal narrowing.

If you have tried conservative methods of treatment and received no benefits, you might consider a surgical treatment for your spinal narrowing. At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive spinal narrowing surgery as a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery, with less surgical blood loss and a reduced risk of infection.^ We perform several procedures to help patients find relief from chronic back conditions such as spinal narrowing.

The type of procedure performed is determined by the cause of the narrowing of the spine. For example, we would have a different treatment for spinal stenosis caused by a herniated disc than for spinal stenosis caused by a bone spur. In order to determine the cause of your spinal narrowing, a member of our team would review your most recent MRI at no-cost* to determine if you are a potential candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery.

During our minimally invasive spinal narrowing surgery, the surgeon would cut a less than 1-inch incision in the back at the location of the condition. Instead of cutting through surrounding muscles and tissues like in traditional open back surgery, our minimally invasive techniques move aside the muscles without disruption. This leads to a shorter recovery time^ for you. Once the surgeon has accessed your spine, the protrusion (a disc or bone) will be removed and the spine may be stabilized, if necessary.

All of our surgeries are performed as outpatient procedures, which helps to eliminate hospital-associated costs and helps patients get back to their lives faster. Our patients are able to leave the same day as their spinal narrowing surgery is performed and 81 percent of our patients who have undergone a minimally invasive decompression surgery have been able to return to work within three months after their procedure.^

Minimally invasive spinal narrowing surgery

While the type of surgical procedure performed depends on the cause of the narrowing in your spine, here are a few of the common minimally invasive spine surgeries we use to treat spinal stenosis:

  • Discectomy and fusion. This procedure involves the removal of a damaged disc that may be contributing to spinal narrowing and nerve compression. This is followed by vertebral fusion, which involves a bone graft and stabilizing implant.
  • Foraminotomy. This spinal narrowing surgery involves the removal of part of the foramen on either side of the vertebra. This decompression procedure is designed to relieve the pressure on the nerve root as it exits through the foraminal canal.
  • Laminotomy. This procedure involves the removal of a portion of the lamina, which is the bony plate attached to the vertebra. Ideally, a laminectomy will widen the narrowed spinal canal, thereby decompressing the affected nerves and relieving pain.

At Laser Spine Institute, our board-certified surgeons+ have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain, setting us apart as the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery. If you are interested in learning more about our minimally invasive decompression procedures to help treat spinal stenosis, please contact our dedicated team. We understand the struggle of living with chronic neck and back pain. Let us help you take the next step to finding relief and recapturing your life.