A slipped disc is a relatively common spinal injury. While many cases of a slipped disc can be effectively treated without surgery, severe cases may require surgical care to prevent chronic pain.
Spinal decompression is a surgical treatment method that’s often used to resolve pain and lost spinal function caused by a herniated disc. This procedure can relieve pressure on spinal nerves so that patients no longer experience pain with everyday activities.
Here, we’ll discuss slipped discs, the process for spinal decompression surgery, and how the TOPS spinal implant can serve as an effective alternative to fusion during this surgical procedure.
Also called a herniated, ruptured, or bulging disc, a slipped disc occurs as a result of damage to one of the spinal discs. Spinal discs are located in between each vertebra of the spine. These discs help connect the vertebrae to form the spine, absorb shock, and contribute to the spine’s mobility.
The spinal discs consist of a firm, rubbery exterior, called the annulus, and a supple, jelly-like interior, called the nucleus. To retain their strength and function, spinal discs need hydration. The aging process can cause the spinal discs to dry out, which increases the risk of damage.
A slipped disc can occur when a tear develops in the annulus of a spinal disc. The nucleus can press out through this tear and may put pressure on nearby nerves.
There are two key causes of a slipped disc: age-related disc degeneration and sudden trauma.
As people age, the spinal discs gradually dry out and experience a significant amount of wear and tear. This heightens the risk of injury, such as a slipped disc.
A sudden back injury may exhibit enough force to damage a spinal disc. This is somewhat common with car accident injuries like whiplash.
A significant portion of people who sustain a slipped disc have no symptoms. However, if the disc presses on a nearby nerve or muscle, pain often results.
Pain caused by slipped discs can vary significantly. With this injury, you may experience pain when you:
A slipped disc can also cause:
Spinal decompression surgery is an umbrella term for procedures that resolve compression on the spinal nerves and/or spinal cord. Types of spinal decompression surgery include:
In a discectomy, the damaged part of a spinal disc is removed to lessen the strain on the adjacent nerves. For cases of a bulging disc that require surgery, discectomy is the most common procedure to perform.
Foraminectomy and foraminotomy are done to enlarge the nerve root openings out of the spinal cord. Tissue and some bone are removed in these procedures. Generally, foraminectomy is used to describe a procedure in which a sizable portion of tissue and bone is removed.
Laminectomy and laminotomy are procedures that involve removing some or all of the lamina, which covers the spinal canal. In laminectomy, the whole lamina is removed, while only some of the lamina is removed during laminotomy.
In corpectomy, a vertebra and the spinal discs are removed. This procedure often requires spinal fusion to restore the spine’s stability.
Osteophyte removal is a procedure designed to remove bone spurs, which can alleviate pressure on spinal nerves.
In spinal decompression surgery, pressure on the spinal nerves is released. This helps reduce nerve irritation while creating an environment in which the affected nerves can heal.
As patients heal from spinal decompression surgery, they’ll notice a reduction in pain, tingling, weakness, and related symptoms from a slipped disc. Spinal surgery can also allow patients to return to activities that previously caused pain from a herniated disc.
It’s important to note that recovery from spinal decompression surgery can take several months. Patients will likely be referred to a physical therapist to expedite the healing process.
Spinal fusion is commonly performed along with spinal decompression surgery to renew spinal stability. Given that tissue is removed from the spine during this surgical procedure, stability is often a large concern.
In spinal fusion, the surgeon places bone graft material in between the affected vertebrae. In the months following the procedure, the graft will stimulate the fusion of the two vertebrae. Eventually, the two spinal bones will become one.
Although spinal fusion is effective for preventing spinal instability, it has several cons, including:
After spinal fusion, some patients are no longer able to bend or twist. This can place severe limits on their physical activities. So, many patients and physicians are now exploring spinal fusion alternatives for freedom of motion.
Patients who are recommended to undergo spinal decompression surgery for a slipped disc should consider asking about all of their treatment options. As an alternative to spinal fusion, the TOPS™ System can reduce the trauma on the spinal tissues and allow for a shorter recovery period.
The TOPS system is a spinal implant that, unlike spinal fusion, moves with the spine. This allows patients to regain their regular range of motion quickly after surgery. With the TOPS system, patients aren’t limited in their movements after spinal decompression surgery.
If you’re considering spinal decompression surgery for a slipped, ask your doctor if the Premia Spine TOPS system is a good option for you.
Lumbar decompression surgery is used to treat compressed nerves in the lower (lumbar) spine and it is often recommended when all forms of treatment have been attempted without success.
In this article, we will provide a comprehensive overview of Lumbar decompression surgery, possible complications, recovery time, and what you can do to speed it up.
Why would a person need Lumbar decompression surgery?
There are many back issues that may require Lumbar decompression surgery to help improve or regain mobility and relieve pain.
These issues are as follows:
A slipped disc – This is when the disc (the soft tissue between the vertebrae) moves out of place and presses down on one of the nerves.
Spinal Stenosis – Stenosis involves the narrowing of the spinal column, which like a slipped disc, applies pressure to the nerves, causing pain.
Sciatica – This is generally caused by a slipped disc but is specific to the unaligned tissue pressing down on the sciatic nerve.
Metastatic spinal cord compression – This is related to a tumor as a result of cancer, which forces one of the organs, such as the lungs to press against the spinal cord or the nerves around it. This can be very serious and lead to significant complications.
Injuries to the spine – This could include impact injuries, such as a fracture, or tissue swelling. This could be a result of an accident, or a problem that has gradually worsened over time.
What does Lumbar decompression surgery entail?
If you have sought medical advice and lumbar decompression surgery has been recommended to you, then you will be required to have one of the three procedures below:
Laminectomy – During a Laminectomy, part of, or sometimes all of the vertebral bone (the lamina would be removed. This procedure helps to ease pressure on any affected nerve roots or the spinal cord, this could be related to a spinal injury, metastatic compression, or a condition such as Sciatica as we outlined above.
A laminectomy would only be advised if the patient has tried a range of treatments that have not helped to ease the pain, or improve their mobility.
Discectomy – A Discectomy removes part of the lumbar herniated disc in the lower back which is applying pressure to the spinal cord or on a nerve root.
This generally takes place as a microdiscectomy and requires a specialist microscope to view the problem area. This means the surgeon would only need to make a small incision, reducing the amount of damage caused to any surrounding tissue.
This procedure may also be combined with a laminectomy.
Spinal Fusion – Spinal fusion surgery involves permanently connecting two, or multiple vertebrae so they can no longer move. The process works in the same way as broken bone does when it heals, effectively copying a natural occurrence.
A small piece of bone will likely be grafted from another part of your body to help bridge the vertebrae together, this will then be connected using multiple metal screws, rods, and plates, forming a singular, solid mechanism.
As the procedures are considered major surgery, you would of course be placed under a general anesthetic so you are unconscious during the entire operation and will not feel any pain. The procedures usually take around an hour to complete but this can be extended if the surgery is particularly complex.
What are the complications of Lumbar decompression surgery?
The success rate of lumbar decompression surgery is regarded as very high but despite that, the surgery itself does carry some risk and complications, just like any major surgery of this type.
These possible complications can include:
What is the average lumbar decompression surgery recovery time?
The average time for Lumbar decompression surgery recovery is around four-to-six weeks.
Of course, this timeframe can differ depending on a person’s general health, the seriousness of the problem before the surgery, and other factors such as disabilities and age.
A person should be fine to leave the hospital one to four days after the surgery has been completed but this may differ depending on the reasons stated above.
What can help speed up lumbar laminectomy surgery recovery?
Below are 5 helpful tips to help speed up the recovery time of lumbar decompression surgery:
Keep exercise to a moderate level and do not overexert yourself, avoiding things like weightlifting and contact sports. It may be sensible to get in touch with a physical therapist who can devise an exercise plan for you.
We hope this guide has been of help and answered any questions you may have about lumbar decompression surgery.