What Is Lumbar Decompression?
Also known as a laminectomy, lumbar decompression surgery relieves the pressure on your spinal cord by removing the lamina section of one or more spinal vertebrae — the bone that covers the back of your spine. The lumbar portion of your spine refers to the area of your lower back.
By removing the lamina, your back doctor creates space in your spinal canal and relieves the compression on your lumbar spine. If you’re suffering from lower back pain, it may be due to spinal compression. Lumbar decompression surgery may be the right solution for you.
Dr. Branko Skovrlj is a renowned expert on spine surgery and the founder of NU-Spine: The Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Institute in Edison, New Jersey. Dr. Skovrlj and his team of specialists at NU-Spine have the state-of-the-art equipment and expertise to relieve your lower back pain.
What Causes Lumbar Compression?
Lumbar compression results from excessive pressure on your spinal cord. Bony growths on your vertebrae inside the spinal canal or bulging discs that extend into the spinal canal are usually responsible. Sometimes called bone spurs, the bony growths can result from low back arthritis or just a normal function of aging.
Bone spurs or damaged vertebral discs that intrude inward narrow your spinal canal, creating pressure on your spinal nerves. This pressure is often quite painful. Spinal stenosis in your lumbar spine is the condition that compresses your spinal cord. Stenosis can result from:
- Herniated discs
- Bone spurs
- Thick ligaments
- Enlarged joints
- Damaged, leaking discs
What Are the Alternatives to Lumbar Decompression Back Surgery?
In recent years, chiropractors have been marketing traction therapy treatments that can cost over $100,000, but clinical research has found the long-term results disappointing. You can find temporary relief such non-surgical treatments as:
- Physical therapy treatments, exercises and stretches
- Prescription medications, some of which can be addictive
But these treatments can’t deliver the pain relief you can experience after lumbar spine decompression. Surgery is the only proven method of relieving lumbar disc compression. Trust a spine surgeon specialist to minimize any associated risks. Dr. Skovrlj is an award-winning neurosurgeon who focuses his practice on minimally invasive surgical techniques.
What Types of Lumbar Decompression Back Surgery Are Available?
After Dr. Skovrlj has performed a thorough physical exam and a review of your medical history, he reaches a conclusive diagnosis. Then he can choose the right procedure for your lumbar disc decompression. He’s an expert in various techniques, including:
- Laminectomy. Your spine surgeon removes the back portion of your vertebra, called the lamina, to relieve spinal pressure.
- Discectomy. Your doctor removes either part or all of a herniated disc.
- Microdiscectomy. This is a more precise version of a discectomy. Your surgeon uses a microscope to make a smaller incision and view your spinal nerves.
- Lumbar foraminotomy. Your surgeon removes the bone enclosing your neural foramen, the channel where your nerves exit your spine. It’s necessary after extensive disc degeneration, when your foramen begins to pinch a nerve.
- Hemilaminectomy. When extensive lumbar disc decompression is required, your surgeon removes the lamina from several vertebrae.
- Spinal fusion. Lumbar decompression and instrumented fusion are necessary when your spine requires additional support. Your surgeon uses plates and screws to fuse adjoining vertebrae. Open lumbar decompression and fusion surgery can deliver lasting relief from lower back pain.
Is Lumbar Decompression Back Surgery Right for Me?
Only your spine surgeon can say for sure after making a diagnosis of your condition. But there are some telltale signs that you’re a good candidate for a lumbar decompression procedure. You may benefit from surgery for lumbar decompression if:
- You feel extreme pain or numbness or your leg or foot.
- You have radiating leg pain that exceeds your back pain.
- Physical therapy and medication haven’t eliminated your pain.
- Standing or sitting has become very uncomfortable.
- Diagnostic tests reveal spinal stenosis.