Spinal Decompression

Spinal decompression is treatment to relieve symptoms of pressure on one or many “pinched nerves” within the spinal column. It can be achieved either surgically or by non-surgical methods. It is used to treat conditions which cause chronic pains such as ‘sciatica’.

Non-surgical method:

 These include predominantly a combination of invasive or non-invasive pain management, physical therapy and physiotherapy. In other words, we stress importance of trying different combinations of tablets, spinal injections, ‘massage’ and specifically designed rehabilitation programmes. These methods DO NOT clear stenosis itself but help manage the related symptoms in a significant proportion of patients.

Those in whom symptoms are difficult to control or the final result of non-surgical treatment is not satisfactory may chose surgical methods.

Surgical Method:

Surgical spinal decompression is performed by either of two procedures depending on pathology:

  1. Microdiscectomy (’micro decompression’)

    This is a ‘minimally invasive procedure’ which involves removal of a portion of a herniated nucleus pulposus (‘disk’) pressing against the nerve.

  2. Laminectomy (open decompression)

    This is a procedure in which a small portion of the arch of the vertebrae is removed to relieve pressure on the pinched nerves.

University of Leeds British Orthopaedic Association Royal College of Surgeons Swansea University NHS Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh