The first thing you should know about spinal decompression is that there are two types – the medical type (surgical) and the chiropractic type (non-surgical). The type used by chiropractors has now made its way into some of the top medical clinics in the U.S.
In this article, you’ll read about the medical type of spinal decompression. Both types have one goal in mind – to take the pressure off the spinal cord and spinal nerves so that your symptoms will go away and you can get back to life as usual.
What is spinal decompression ?
Spinal decompression is a type of surgery of the spine where parts of the vertebral body are removed to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerves. It is only performed in cases where the spinal cord or spinal nerves have been compressed or squashed in one way or another.
The other part of the surgery may involve removing the outer coating of the spinal cord, called the dura or the disc that is bulging, and responsible for the pressure on the nerve or cord.
In some cases, a spinal fusion is also performed in the spinal decompression surgery. The purpose of the fusion is to attach a small rod or other orthopedic device in the area where the vertebrae are worked on. The rod will help by lending some stability to the area after the surgery is finished and during the healing process. The rod usually remains in the body after the surgery and is not removed.
Spinal decompression surgery has its risks
Your spinal decompression surgery is an elective surgery, performed by either a highly skilled neurosurgeon or an orthopedic surgeon. But like other types of surgery, is not without its risks. Any surgical procedure can result in these problems:
- excessive bleeding
- reactions to anesthesia
- blood clots that can cause stroke, pulmonary emobolism or death
Spinal decompression surgery can also result in these risks:
- the fusion of the vertebrae does not occur
- broken metal rods, plates or screws (If this happens, you’ll need another surgery)
- nerve damage if a nerve is cut during the surgery
- more pain from nerve damage
- a new problem with the vertebrae above or below the area that was repaired
Despite these complications, spinal decompression surgery is thought to be successful 70% of the time when the surgery is on the lumbar spine. However, it shouldn’t be thought of as the end-all of the problem. About 17% of those who are older end up back in the operating room for another surgery.
One thing is certain: if you focus on these complications, you can almost create them with your mind. What we focus on is what we get more of. The purpose of having them here is only to keep you well-informed, so please don’t dwell on them.
If you believe that the surgery may be the right thing for you to do, then spend time seeing yourself wholesome and healthy after the surgery in your mind’s eye.
Spinal decompression treatment
Spinal decompression treatment is not appropriate for patients with these different conditions:
- Someone who has extensive lung disease or severe heart disease.
- Someone whose bones are porous and has been diagnosed with osteoporosis and is elderly.
- Someone whose neck has lost the normal cervical curve.
So if you have one of these conditions or more than one of them, then make sure you remind your doctor that you were reading this article online and it mentioned that you really weren’t a candidate for the treatment. Ask him if something has changed in the treatment that would make it a good choice for you to proceed. If he says it’s fine, do get a second opinion.
This surgery is elective surgery, rarely required surgery. It’s always better to have a second opinion. Then you’d know if the second doctor agreed it was a good choice that perhaps there truly have been some new changes in the technique to allow patients with the above listed conditions to get the treatment. But always let your intuition guide you.
After treatment, there’s a time period that is needed for rehabilitation. How much rehabilitation you need depends on how bad your spinal condition was going into the surgery. Did you have spinal stenosis? Did you have a disk protrusion? Were there calcifications growing on many levels of vertebrae?
Now that you know about medical spinal decompression treatment, it’s time to find out more about the non-surgical decompression; then you can make a wise decision on which way to go.
Filed under: Spinal Stenosis