What Is Spinal Stenosis Decompression?
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal column caused by bone spurs, herniated discs, tumors and other conditions. The condition causes compression of nerves, leading to pain, numbness, weakness and other symptoms. It most frequently happens in the lumbar spine (lower back) but can also occur in the cervical spine (neck). Decompression is a surgery that aims to give nerves more room and alleviate the pressure on them.
Common Reasons for Spinal Stenosis Decompression
Spinal stenosis can be caused by:
Candidates for Spinal Stenosis Decompression
Spinal stenosis decompression surgery is usually an option when nonsurgical management techniques have not produced results. These more conservative options can include anti-inflammatories, corticosteroid injections and physical therapy. Spinal stenosis decompression can be an option if symptoms are interfering with the patient’s day-to-day life.
Decompression surgery is also known as a laminectomy. It is the removal of the back portion of the vertebra, called the lamina. When an intervertebral disc is herniated or bulging, it pushes the nerve up against the lamina. Removing the lamina gives the nerve more space, reducing pressure on it and relieving symptoms. Sometimes only part of the lamina is removed, and sometimes a laminectomy is performed in conjunction with a microdiscectomy or spinal fusion surgery.
Spinal decompression surgery may be an outpatient surgery for some patients—meaning no hospital stay required—while other patients may need a brief hospital stay. Physical therapy to strengthen the back may be necessary after surgery.
A small study published in European Spine Journal suggests that physical function, leg pain and back pain improved after spinal decompression surgery, and that improvement was maintained five years after the surgery.
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