The Blog
May 21, 2019

The Purpose of Spinal Decompression Surgery

For those who suffer from chronic back pain and pinched nerves, spinal decompression may be the answer. Spinal decompression is designed to reduce pressure on the nerves by enlarging the spaces around them. This procedure is typically a last resort when all other therapy options and treatments have been exhausted.

What Is Spinal Decompression Surgery?

Spinal decompression is a surgical procedure used to treat symptoms and signs caused by stenosis, or narrowing, around the spinal nerves within the spinal canal and/or the spinal neural foraminae, the exits through which the nerves leave the spinal canal.

Spinal stenosis, or narrowing, will cause compression of the nerves which can lead to the development of lower back and/or leg symptoms, such as pain, sciatica, tingling, numbness, weakness, or bowel and bladder dysfunction.  The cause of stenosis could be from the disc, such as a herniated disc, from degenerative changes of the facet joints and disc, from misalignment or slippage of the vertebrae, or from thickening of ligaments in the spine.  In most causes, however, stenosis is caused by a combination of the above leading to narrowing around the nerves as they pass through the central spinal canal or as they exit the central canal through the neural foraminae.

Based on the specific structure causing stenosis, various spinal decompression surgical procedures exist that describe how the specific structure is being addressed to decompress the nerves.  Thus, spinal decompression procedures can include laminectomy, facetectomy, foraminotomy, and discectomy.

How Is Laminectomy Used?

Laminectomy is a procedure that involves removing the posterior wall of the spinal canal, formed by the vertebral lamina and posterior yellow ligament.  A laminectomy procedure can involve removal of the entire vertebral lamina, complete laminectomy, or removal of only a portion of the lamina, partial laminectomy.  This will result in enlargement of the spinal canal and decompression of the spinal nerves passing through the spinal canal.

How Is Facetectomy Used?

Facetectomy is a procedure that involves removing part of the facet joints to enlarge the spinal canal and lateral recesses.  A complete facetectomy involves removal and resection of the entire facet joint which would lead to instability, thus, necessitating instrumentation and fusion.  A partial facetectomy involves removal of part of the facet joint only.

How is Foraminotomy Used?

Foraminotomy is a procedure that involves enlarging the neural foramina through which a spinal nerve is exiting the spinal canal.

How Is Discectomy Used?

Discectomy is a procedure that involves removal of the disc material that is causing compression of the nerve.  When a surgical microscope is being used, the procedure is commonly described as microdiscectomy.  A complete discectomy involves removal of the entire disc material while a partial discectomy involves removal of only a portion of the disc, more specifically removal of the herniated disc fragment responsible for nerve impingement.

When Do You Need Spinal Decompression?

The decision to undergo spinal surgery of this type is not to be taken lightly. Your doctor will need to refer you to a specialist in order to determine which procedure is right for you. Your doctor might also recommend a series of non-invasive therapies that may help reduce swelling and strain on your spine before going ahead with surgery. While therapy may provide temporary relief, no current therapy exists to provide a permanent solution, which is why surgery can often be the eventual treatment.

If your pinched nerves have reached the point of causing chronic or debilitating pain during normal activity, it is time to speak to your doctor about spinal decompression surgery. Performing the appropriate spinal decompression procedure, we can reduce the pressure on your nerve roots and take the discomfort out of sitting, standing, and walking. While the procedures described above can be performed through traditional surgical approaches, Dr. Abdulhamid is highly experienced in cutting-edge procedures utilizing minimally invasive techniques during spinal surgery.  Here at Royal Spine Surgery, we're also experienced with other advanced technologies and tools like the revolutionary Coflex® that can be used in order to stabilize the spine and provide better results than decompression surgery alone, and can avoid the need for fusion surgery. Contact Royal Spine Surgery today to schedule a consultation visit.

Dr. Abdulhamid


Dr. Abdulhamid

Dr. Abdulhamid is a highly skilled and experienced board-certified neurosurgeon with a passion for providing exceptional spine care. He specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery and has a reputation for achieving outstanding results for his patients. His commitment to excellence and patient-centered approach have earned him the trust and respect of his patients and colleagues alike.

Recent Blogs