Typical Back Surgeries

Compared to how many people experience back pain every year, spine surgery is rarely the initial treatment. For a majority of patients, surgery is considered only after a course of treatments that combine self and doctor-steered-care. There are emergency situation where surgery necessary or considered early on, but most conditions are resolved non-surgically. Most commonly, doctors advise somewhere between 3 to 6 months (sometimes longer) of recovery treatments before even considering spine surgery.

Once the decision is made to opt for surgery there are generally two types of lower back surgery – decompression and spinal fusion.

Decompression back surgery involves removing a small portion of the bone or disc material from around the nerve root or spinal cord to relieve nerve pinching and provide more room for the nerve recovery.

Herniated Disk decompression:
Herniated disk surgery is the condition that receives the most surgeries. Surgery is to reduce the pain, but also to get the bulging disk from causing nerve damage or making damage worse. Surgical methods include:

  • Chemonucleolysis: A non-surgical, but still invasive option where an enzyme is injected directly into the disk to dissolve the portion of the disk that is protruding
  • Diskectomy: Surgery under general anesthesia where a surgeon removes the protruding portions of the disk from the spinal canal or from between the vertebrae.
  • Microdiskectomy: Similar to a Diskectomy, but it is less invasive, since the surgeon makes a smaller incision and the surgery is performed looking through a microscope, as opposed to the standard open surgery of a Diskectomy.

A foramenotomy is another surgery used to reduce pressure on a nerve caused by a bit of bone or osteophyte. The suregery removes that portion of bone or other tissue that may be compressing as the nerve exits the spinal column.

Spinal fusion:
Spinal fusion surgery links together vertebrae that are normally separate so that motion cannot occur between the individual vertebrae. These vertebrae are individual bones that stack to form the backbone.

A laminectomy is done to relieve pressure on the spinal cord. It is most commonly used to treat spinal stenosis and spondylolisthesis.

Other surgeries:

Spinal Disc Replacement
Spinal disc replacement is a treatment option for some types of low back pain. It is quite common in Europe, but not yet approved in the U.S.

Cauda Equina Syndrome
Cauda equina syndrome is an emergency situation where the complicated nerve root system in the lower spine is being compressed. This compression can cause tingling, numbness and loss of bladder or bowel control and without urgent treatment could cause permanent nerve damage.

5 thoughts on “Typical Back Surgeries”

  1. treatment for the backpain is really hard. Here in India we have many natural medicine

  2. Chronic Backpain can now also be treated with a body own compound, called Normast. This is a totally new therapeutic principle, based on activation of our own natural systems. This is due to the fact that the active principle in Normast is palmitoylethanolamide (PEA). PEA is a body-own fatty acid, and is produced by our own living cells to bring balance in the chronic pain and chronic inflammatory. Normast has been useed by more than 800.000 patients, mostly in Europe. It can be used in addition to regular medicine, without fear for negative interactions, it can be used in elder people, without having fear for somnolence, and I have never seen any side effects.

    Normast has been evaluated in a great number of scientific papers and is an autocoid. An autocoid is a body own compound able to modify our own biological balance. It has been found useful in a variety of chronic diseases, amongst others in severe neuropathic pain, sciatic pain, prostate pain, pain after stroke and in MS and pelvic pain. Side effects are neglectable, due to the fact that this molecule is part of our own body. It has special analgesic properties, and in sciatic pain for instance, it is much more effective compared to the chemical analgesic Lyrica (pregabeline)!

    Normast has been demonstrated in recent trials to decrease pain in diabetic neuropathic pain, zoster pain lumbosacral pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and nervus medianus compression pain. It is a valuable add-on to our therapeutic modalities in chronic back pain.

  3. I recently underwent disk replacement with fusion surgery at GBMC in Baltimore MD on April 13. Apparently I have developed restless leg syndrome. It appears that it is a result of the surgery since I have never had this condition before. I am asking the blog community if they have had or know of any way to treat this condition. Also, if you had this surgery, how long did until you were back to normal.


  4. Spinal Decompression has been a life saver in our office in Canada. We combine it with Active Release Technique and with certain patients, maybe even some Corrective Therapy. Combination of all of those will save people from back surgeries!

  5. Even in Israel we have good treatment for back pain. We have specialist for treating back pain

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