What type of doctor should I see for a spinal decompression?

A degenerative spine condition can cause your spinal cord or one of its nerve roots to be compressed, causing serious pain and discomfort. A spinal decompression offers relief from the pain of pinched spinal nerves.

What type of doctor performs a spinal decompression?

If your doctor has recommended a surgical spinal decompression, you may wonder what type of specialist you will need to see. Neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons typically perform surgical spinal decompression procedures. The type of surgeon that you will see will depend on your specific condition and the symptoms that you’re experiencing.

  • A neurosurgeon focuses on disorders of the nervous system, which includes the spinal cord and nerve roots
  • An orthopedic surgeon treats disorders of the musculoskeletal system

If you’re dealing with severe neurological pain caused by compression of the spinal cord in the cervical (neck) region of your spine, a neurosurgeon may be a good choice to perform your surgery. If your spinal cord or nerve roots are being compressed by a displaced vertebra (a condition known as spondylolisthesis), an orthopedic surgeon may be best equipped to realign and fuse the slipped vertebra with an adjacent vertebra and decompress neural structures.

Understanding nerve compression

Spinal decompression can help to relieve pressure that’s being placed on the spinal cord or its nerve roots. These delicate neural structures can be compressed by conditions including:

  • Bulging disc
  • Herniated disc
  • Bone spur

Another cause of compression may be an anatomical abnormality that has invaded the spinal canal space, coming into contact with the spinal cord or nerve roots. Anatomical abnormalities can be a result of the natural degenerative processes associated with aging.

Nerve compression can interrupt the normal transmission of sensory and motor signals to and from the brain, causing pain. Symptoms may occur, including localized neck or back pain as well as radiating pain, numbness, weakness and tingling in the upper or lower body.

Spinal decompression treatment

Nerves can be decompressed in a variety of ways, both surgically and nonsurgically. Nonsurgical ways to temporarily decompress spinal nerves include:

  • Chiropractic adjustments
  • The use of a mechanical traction device (such as an inversion table) to gently elongate the spine and lift pressure off nerves
  • Targeted stretching exercises

Surgical decompression refers to a procedure where a surgeon removes parts of vertebral bone, damaged intervertebral discs and ligaments in order to open up space in the spinal column and release pinched nerves. Surgeons also may fuse two or more vertebrae together to secure them in a position where they no longer compress nerves.

While surgery is helping many people recover from serious spine conditions, spinal decompression surgery is not an ideal treatment option for most patients. A regimen of conservative, nonsurgical treatments can typically relieve nerve compression symptoms and should be tried first.

Minimally invasive decompression procedures

If you have tried conservative therapies for several months, and are still experiencing pain or limited mobility, we invite you to learn more about the minimally invasive decompression procedures offered at Laser Spine Institute. We offer several procedures that can help to relieve pressure on the nerve root or spinal cord, including:

  • Foraminotomy
  • Laminotomy
  • Discectomy
  • Facet thermal ablation

Our procedures see a reduced risk of infection when compared to traditional open neck and back surgery. In addition, we see a 96 satisfaction rate in our patients.^ 88 percent of our patients return to work within three months after surgery.

Call a member of our team today to learn more about our minimally invasive outpatient procedures. We want to help you find relief from chronic pain, so contact us to find out if you are a candidate for outpatient treatment at Laser Spine Institute.

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