Nerve Decompression

Nerve decompression or spinal decompression is a general term used in various procedures to relieve symptoms caused by pressure on the spinal cord and/or nerve roots. This can be caused by stenosis, bone spurs or accident or injury. This is done with all spinal procedures.

The spinal nerves extend from the spinal column, between the vertebra. When a damaged disc (bulge or herniation), bone spurs or other boney abnormalities, non-cancerous or cancerous tumors, hematomas or abscess press against these nerves you have a nerve compression. This compression may cause pain, weakness, numbness or tingling in either your arms or legs.

Who is a Candidate for Nerve Decompression?

The procedure may treat pain caused by spinal stenosis and other related spinal conditions. Ideal candidates for this procedure may have a variety of symptoms; however, candidates for laminectomy should have one or more of the following:

  • Acute or chronic pain in the back or neck that is dull, throbbing, sharp, deep, shooting, or radiating
  • Sciatica pain that radiates from the back down to the buttocks, thighs, calves, feet, and/or toes
  • Pain in the neck that is felt into the shoulders, arms, hands, and/or fingers
  • Weakness, numbness, or tingling in the extremities
  • Trouble standing, difficulty walking, or extreme pain when sitting for long periods of time
  • History of attempting more than one conservative methods of treatment that failed to relieve pain or heal the spinal condition

What to Expect After Nerve Decompression

Your physician will recommend the appropriate procedure for your condition. A spinal nerve decompression can be done on the cervical, thoracic or lumbar sections of the spine. The surgeon may recommend a discectomy, laminotomy, laminectomy or foraminotomy. With each of these procedures the spine surgeon will make an incision in your back over the affected vertebrae and move the muscles away from your spine. Small instruments are used to remove either the diseased disc or any bone fragments or spurs causing pressure on the spinal nerves or spinal cord.

Results of Nerve Decompression

Patients are usually able to get out of bed within a few hours after surgery. However, you will be instructed to move your back only carefully and comfortably. Patients are able to return home when their medical condition is stable.

Recovery time will depend on the extent of the surgery and personal situation. In general, after a minor laminectomy, most are usually able to return to light activity within a few weeks. If they also had a spinal fusion with their laminectomy, recovery time will be longer. Heavier work and activities should wait two to three months.

It is imperative that you complete physical therapy as designated by the doctor to help ensure the best possible outcome from your laminectomy.

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