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, 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 its normal parameter, 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 stenosis. 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 stenosis. Spinal narrowing surgery is typically the last treatment option recommended to patients after they have tried a range of nonsurgical treatments without success.

Treatment options for spinal stenosis

Before elective spinal narrowing surgery is considered, most patients begin treating spinal stenosis with conservative methods, such as exercises, stretches and 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. Consult your physician before you begin an exercise or stretching routine for the purpose of treating your spinal stenosis.

If you have tried conservative methods of treatment and received no benefits, you might consider a surgical treatment for your spinal stenosis. At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive spinal narrowing surgery as an effective alternative to traditional open back surgery. We offer several procedures to help patients find relief from spinal stenosis. The type of procedure performed is determined by the cause of the spinal stenosis. 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 stenosis, one of our specialists would need to review your most recent MRI.

During our minimally invasive spinal narrowing surgery, the surgeon would cut a 1-inch incision in the back at the location of the condition. Instead of cutting through surrounding muscles and tissues as occurs 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 will be stabilized, if necessary.

All of our surgeries are performed as outpatient procedures, which means no overnight hospital stay is required. Our patients are able to leave the same day their spinal narrowing surgery is performed.

Minimally invasive spinal narrowing surgery

While the type of surgical procedure performed depends on the cause of your spinal stenosis, 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, a minimally invasive stabilization procedure, which involves a bone graft and stabilizing implant.
  • Foraminotomy — This spinal narrowing surgery involves the removal of a disc, in addition to all or part of the vertebra on either side of the disc. Minimally invasive stabilization surgery usually follows a Foraminotomy procedure to stabilize the spine and help prevent future narrowing.
  • Laminotomy — This procedure involves the removal of all or 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.

If you are interested in learning more about our minimally invasive stabilization procedures to help treat spinal stenosis, please contact our Spine Care Consultants. We can review your MRI to discuss treatment options and determine your candidacy for spinal narrowing surgery at Laser Spine Institute. We understand the struggle of living with chronic back pain. Let us help you take the next step to finding relief and recapturing your life.