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Spinal Decompression Surgery

What is spinal decompression surgery?

Spinal decompression surgery is performed to relieve lower back pain or other symptoms caused by compression of the spinal cord or the spinal nerves.

What are the symptoms of spinal nerve compression?

  • Pain – especially in the lower back (lumbar spine) – but also possibly in the neck (cervical spine) or upper back (thoracic spine)
  • Neuropathies (such as numbness or the "pins and needles" sensation of tingling)
  • Feeling of weakness or instability in the back

In certain nerve compression conditions, such as spinal stenosis, you may also experience:

  • Neuropathies in the arms, hands, legs or feet
  • Balance problems
  • Incontinence issues (bowel dysfunction, unexpected need to urinate, etc.)

What kinds of spinal decompression surgeries are there?

The thee general types of spinal decompression surgeries performes at HSS are:

  • Laminectomy: removal in one or more vertabrae of the lamina (bony roof over the spinal canal). This decompresses both sides (left and right) of the canal.
  • Laminotomy: removal of a small portion of the lamina to decompress one side (left or right) of the canal. This leaves most of the lamina intact.
  • Microsurgical laminoplasty: a minimally invasive surgical decompression technique that uses small incisions viewed through an operating microscope.

Below, find animation videos on different types of spine compression surgery, and find HSS surgeons who perform these procedures. If you would like help finding the best spine surgeon at HSS for your particular condition and insurance, call the phone number listed on this page or complete our online appointment request form.

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