Spinal decompression therapy


Spinal decompression encompasses various treatments aimed at alleviating back pain by reducing pressure on the neural elements of your spine. These treatments offer potential relief for chronic back pain and include both surgical and alternative therapy options. Your doctor can help you determine the most suitable approach for your specific needs.

Types of spinal decompression therapy

There are several types of back pain that can be treated without a doctor’s help. Back pain that is acute (sudden) typically goes away on its own. While you heal, painkillers and muscle relaxants provide relief. Using hot and cold packs might also be beneficial.

There are alternative treatments for back pain that is persistent or chronic. Most patients begin with minimally invasive treatments. Your doctor might suggest surgery if home care is ineffective.

Reasons for undergoing the procedure

The support structure for your body is the spine, commonly referred to as the backbone. It consists of a series of bones known as vertebrae, which remain flexible due to ligaments and spinal disks. Your spinal column serves as a nerve pathway that extends through the center of its bones, ligaments, and disks.

Pain may arise due to spinal degeneration caused by normal wear and tear, as well as injuries. This pain can originate from compression within your spine, exerting pressure on your spinal cord or nerves. Spinal decompression is designed to alleviate this pressure in order to reduce pain.

Following are a few typical causes for receiving spinal decompression therapy:

  • Bulging disks, which occur when a cushion between vertebrae protrudes.
  • Degenerative discs refer to the gradual deterioration of the cushioning material between vertebrae.
  • Herniated disks, where a disk fragment presses against a nerve.
  • Pinched nerves, which occur when a nerve is compressed and becomes numb, painful, or tingly.
  • Sciatica, where is sciatic nerve is injured.
  • Spinal stenosis, which is the narrowing of gaps in your spine as a result of bone spurs, bulging disks, or herniated disks.


Alternative therapies may not always yield effective results, and medications can sometimes cause allergic reactions. Surgical options, on the other hand, carry potential risks such as infection, bleeding, blood clots, nerve or tissue damage, and more. It is crucial to discuss your alternatives and concerns with your healthcare provider.

Spinal decompression surgery

If various treatments are unsuccessful, doctors may advise surgery. Although minimally invasive techniques are employed in some spinal decompression surgeries, but not all procedures follow this approach. Ask your doctor if you can benefit from a less invasive procedure.

You may have the following surgical options for spinal compression:

  • Corpectomy: A vertebra or disk is removed by a surgeon. Your surgeon might perform a spinal fusion, in which two bones are fused together, to support your spine.
  • Discectomy: To relieve pressure on your nerve, your surgeon removes a portion of a disk.
  • Foraminotomy or foraminectomy: Your surgeon enlarges the nerve root apertures by cutting away bone or other tissue. Pain is reduced by widening the openings where your spinal cord’s nerves exit.
  • Laminotomy or laminectomy: A portion or all of the bony arches on your spinal canal are removed by the surgeon. These bone fragments can be removed, which can widen your spinal canal and reduce strain.
  • Osteophyte removal: Osteophytes, also known as bone spurs, are outgrowths of the bone that develop with aging. In order to reduce pressure, your surgeon can remove them.

Following surgery, it is possible to remain hospitalized for a maximum of five days. The duration of your full recovery may vary depending on the specific surgical procedure you underwent, and it could span several months. With the assistance of physical therapy, you can gradually regain strength, mobility, and sensation in your nerves.

Before the surgery

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to get ready for surgery. It not only reduces anxiety and worry before the procedure, but it also frees you up to concentrate on your rehabilitation. Make plans for assistance when you get home. After your procedure, you’ll need to relax quite a bit. Additionally, there will be limitations on the activities you can engage in and the amount of lifting you can do. When making these arrangements, you should take child and pet care into account, especially if you have young children who need lifting, diaper changes, or transportation to and from school. Performing lab work is another thing you may do to get ready for surgery. Imaging studies or blood tests may be part of this. Your surgeon will let you know which of these tests can be done beforehand. You must arrive early on the day of your procedure.

You will be brought back to the surgery prep area once you have checked in. You’ll put on a hospital gown here. You will have an intravenous catheter placed so that you can get fluids and medication through it. Additionally, your anesthesiologist will visit and speak with you. He or she will inquire about your discomfort, inquire about any medicine allergies you may have, etc. When you are prepared to return for surgery, you will be given anesthesia and brought into the operating room.

During the surgery

To make sure that your procedure goes as smoothly as possible, your surgeon will work with a team of specialists. Only very minor skin incisions are required for all three of the aforementioned treatments. The procedure will next be performed by your surgeon using a specialized microscope and devices made for use in confined locations.

Your surgeon will identify the area of the herniated disc that is pressing against your spinal cord or nerves if you are having a partial discectomy. The problematic areas will then be carefully removed.

A laminectomy involves removing the lamina, a piece of the vertebra, from the spine. Your spinal cord can now move freely within the spinal canal as a result of this. This method of treating spinal stenosis is frequently employed.

Your doctor might further do a fusion surgery if the laminectomy has weakened the bone. When doing a fusion surgery, the area of your spine where the laminectomy was performed is stabilized using bone grafts and occasionally hardware like rods and screws.

Your surgeon performs a foraminotomy by removing any tissue or bone that may be contributing to a narrowing of the spinal canal. This makes space for the spinal cord to move more freely, just like the laminectomy.

Your incision will be stitched up when your treatments are finished, and you’ll be taken to a separate location called as recovery. You will be closely observed here till you wake up. As soon as your condition is stable, you will be transferred to another area of the hospital.

Your hospital stay after surgery could last anywhere from one to four days on average. This will change based on the complexity of your procedure and how well the painkillers are working for you. You will start using oral painkillers during your stay, and if necessary, you might also start light physical therapy.

After the surgery

Your surgeon will go through your restrictions and recovery instructions with you once you’re ready to be discharged to go home. Make sure to adhere to all of his or her recommendations, including the proper timing for taking painkillers.
You’ll likely feel much more exhausted than normal when you get home. Both the anesthetic and the healing process of your body are to blame for this. Get lots of rest.

A healthy, balanced diet will provide your body with the nutrients it needs to heal better and more rapidly, and short, regular walks will help keep your blood flowing. It is crucial that you stop smoking if you’ve had a spinal fusion. This may cause the bone grafts to completely fail or even cause the healing process to slow down.

It’s crucial to show up to any follow-up appointments your doctor has set for you. The initial one will probably happen 10 to 14 days following your treatment. You might need to have x-rays or an MRI, depending on the method used, to monitor your recovery.


Surgery often achieves a high success rate in relieving pain. However, it’s essential to note that not all degenerative conditions can be completely resolved through surgical means, and symptoms may reoccur.

Clinical studies on spinal stenosis have indicated that individuals who undergo surgery tend to experience greater improvement compared to those who opt for nonsurgical therapies.