What Is A Decompression?
The most common surgery performed in the spine is called a “decompression”, which means to take pressure off of pinched nerves or spinal cord. Decompression is performed anywhere in the spine, including cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine, hence the terms “lumbar decompression” or “cervical decompression”.
In the cervical spine, decompression can be accomplished from either the front (anterior) or back (posterior) of the spine. In the lumbar spine, direct decompression of nerves can only be performed from the back of the spine, although “indirect” decompression can be done from the front of the lumbar spine by distracting the disc spaces.
Decompression surgery is performed to relieve symptoms associated with pinched nerves. Patients who need this surgery typically have pain that radiates into the arm(s) or leg(s). Decompression is a very successful surgery and is very reliable in relieving radicular arm or leg pain.
A laminectomy is a type of decompression surgery. The lamina is the bone in the back of the spinal canal. If there is pressure on the nerves, the lamina is removed (called laminectomy) to decompress the nerves.