Spinal Decompression Surgery
Your spine can withstand a great deal of pressure.
It enables you to stand tall, to flex, and to balance and it protects your spinal cord, nerve roots and several internal organs.
It does that extremely well if its internal structure is strong. But when something shifts inside your spine, it can create intolerable pressure that pinches your nerves and causes significant pain and discomfort. Decompression surgery may be advised.
What is decompression surgery?
Spinal decompression surgery is done to relieve pressure on your nerves by widening a narrowed spinal canal or removing a portion of a herniated disc. It can be performed anywhere along your spine from your neck to your lower back, depending on where the problem is.
Your spine has a precise structure that includes:
- Vertebrae – hollow, bony building blocks
- Joints – that connect one vertebrae to another to allow movement
- Discs – these sit between your vertebrae to cushion movement and absorb shock
- Nerves – your spinal cord runs through the hollow column formed by your vertebrae (known as your spinal canal).
Nerves exit your spine at each vertebrae. Sometimes when the bony structures of your spine degenerate, one of your spinal nerves can be pinched or compressed, causing pain. That’s when spinal decompression surgery may be advised.
Spinal stenosis is one of the most common reasons for having spinal decompression surgery. Spinal stenosis happens when your spinal canal narrows and presses on your nerves. That can happen if you have:
- An injury
- A bony overgrowth (bone spur), commonly caused by osteoarthritis
- An arthritic cyst
- A herniated disc
- A tumour.
Types of spinal decompression surgery
There are several types of spinal decompression surgery:
- Microdiscectomy – this is a minimally invasive decompression surgery performed to relieve pressure caused by a herniated disc
- Laminectomy – this involves removing part of your vertebral bone (lamina) to ease pressure on your spinal cord and nerve roots
- Laminoplasty – a decompression surgery for your neck in which metal plates are inserted to hold open the lamina (roof of the spinal canal)
- Subacromial decompression – a surgery to decompress your shoulder and relieve shoulder impingement by increasing the space above the joint
- Decompression surgery with fusion – two surgeries performed together, one aiming to relieve the pressure on your nerves and the other aiming to stabilise your spine through spinal fusion.
Success rate of spinal decompression surgery
Surgery to relieve pressure on the nerve roots can ease pain in the majority of patients.
Unfortunately, though, the underlying problem may return. A degenerative condition like osteoarthritis may cause new bony growths to pinch your nerves once more. Wear and tear can also happen to your discs.
Decompression surgery recovery process
After spinal decompression surgery, you’ll spend several days in hospital then start a program of physiotherapy to strengthen your body and improve your freedom of movement.
How can the Victorian Orthopaedic Spine Service help?
We don’t want you to live with ongoing back pain when there are treatment options available to help you.
Once your doctor writes a referral, you’re ready to make an appointment. Our spinal surgeon Dr Edis will examine you and any previous test results, listen as you describe your symptoms and recommend the most appropriate treatment options.
All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances and seek a second opinion. Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks.
A referral is not necessary to book an appointment with us, but is required to receive Medicare rebates.
To receive the Medicare rebates for your appointment costs, you will need an up-to-date referral from either a GP (usually valid for 12 months) or from another specialist (valid for 3 months).
Call (03) 8683 9039