Healthy Living

What Is Spinal Decompression?

What Is Spinal Decompression?

The human back is a complex structure of muscles, ligaments, bones, joints, and nerves. It is common for people to experience back problems at some point in their life for a variety of reasons. Since the pain can radiate into the back and even from other parts of the body, it is very difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of pain in some cases. It is a well-known fact that back pain is among the leading causes of disability worldwide in both men and women. Back issues can affect people of all ages. Listed below are some of the factors that can increase the risk of back pain:

  • Bad posture
  • Being 30-40 years of age or older
  • Being overweight
  • Lifting heavy objects or improper lifting
  • Having certain jobs that require constant bending, twisting, or lifting heavy objects
  • Having certain jobs that require you to spend long hours seated at the office
  • Lack of physical exercise

Some of the most common medical conditions associated with back pain include:

How is back pain diagnosed?

As previously mentioned, there are various factors and medical conditions that can lead to back pain. However, back pain is often generally the result of a muscle strain or physical exercise. If the symptoms of the condition worsen, it is imperative that you seek immediate medical help for a proper diagnosis. The diagnosis of back pain is based on a detailed physical examination, evaluation of the range of motion, and the ability to walk, stand, or even sit down. X-rays of the back, CT scans, and MRI scans are also recommended.

How is back pain treated?

The treatment for back pain depends on its underlying cause, the severity of the pain, and the presence of other signs and symptoms. In some cases, the pain will resolve on its own (muscle strain). However, in some cases, over-the-counter painkillers, bed rest, and hot or cold compresses are necessary. In severe cases of back pain, a doctor or specialist may find it necessary to prescribe a stronger medication to treat pain along with physical therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic care, or osteopathy.

Spinal surgery is the final treatment option when conservative treatments have failed to resolve the problem. Two of the most commonly performed surgical procedures are:

  • Discectomy: Parts of the vertebral discs are removed in order to relieve the pressure on the nerve roots.
  • Spinal Fusion: A fusion of two or more vertebrae in order to stabilize the spine and relieve the pain.

Surgical treatment is not always successful, and it may take an extended period of time to recover. If you experience back pain that lasts longer and is related to other signs and symptoms, spinal decompression therapy may be the right treatment for you. You can choose either a surgical or a non-surgical spinal decompression. Spinal decompression can be performed on any part of the spine ranging from the neck to the lower back.

What is non-surgical spinal decompression?

The treatment that is often recommended is the non-surgical spinal decompression. This is a treatment that helps relieve back pain and pressure on the nerve roots or the spinal cord. It stretches the spine gently over a period of time. When non-surgical spinal decompression is performed, herniated discs that have protruded may retract relieving the pressure. It also promotes the passage of various nutrients, which provide a better and faster healing environment.

Non-surgical spinal decompression treatment lasts for about 30 to 45 minutes. More than one treatment is required (about 20 to 28), usually over the span of five to seven weeks.

Is non-surgical spinal decompression recommended for everyone?

Only a doctor who has assessed the patient’s back problem has the authority to say if the patient is a good candidate for spinal decompression or not. However, non-surgical spinal decompression is not recommended when you are pregnant or have the following conditions:

Non-surgical spinal decompression will help you avoid undergoing back surgery. It is important to note that surgeries performed on the back are done in severe cases only. Hence, a consultation with your doctor about the benefits and the disadvantages of such treatment is necessary.

What is surgical spinal decompression?

Surgical spinal decompression is one of the last treatment options for back pain. It is usually recommended in cases when other measures and treatments have failed to resolve the problem. Surgical spinal decompression might be the right treatment for you in cases of a herniated disc, ruptured disc, bony growth, or other spine problems that are causing you severe pain and hindering your everyday life.

Like any other surgical treatment, surgical spinal decompression has its own risks, side effects, and possible complications. Some of the most common risks associated with surgical spinal decompression are:

  • Allergic reaction to anesthesia
  • Infection
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Bleeding
  • Nerve damage
  • Tissue damage
  • Bone graft migration
  • Vertebra failing to fuse
  • Hardware fractures

Different Types of Spinal Decompression Surgery

There is more than one type of spinal surgery, which might help you relieve severe back pain. The most common types of back pain surgery include:

  • Discectomy: A surgical procedure in which a small part of the intervertebral disc is removed in order to relieve the pain and compression of the spinal cord and nerve roots.
  • Laminectomy: A procedure in which a small portion of the bone known as the lamina (the bony arch or just a portion of the arch) is removed in order to increase the size of the spinal canal and relieve back pain.
  • Osteophyte Removal: A procedure in which bone growths, commonly known as osteophytes, are removed.
  • Foraminotomy: A procedure in which the openings of the nerve roots are expanded by removing bones and other surrounding tissues.
  • Corpectomy: A procedure in which the vertebra and the discs between the vertebra are removed.

Consult a doctor or specialist for further information regarding surgical or non-surgical spinal decompression.