Back decompression is a form of treatment for lower spine conditions — such as herniated discs or arthritis — that aims to relieve nerve compression. Every person experiences some degree of age-related degeneration of spinal anatomy, but the most painful and disruptive symptoms are often the result of narrowing of the spinal column that constricts the spinal nerves. Back decompression describes any form of therapy, ranging from surgery to manual adjustment, which attempts to take pressure off the spinal nerves.
If your life is being put on hold by lower back pain, educating yourself as a patient is a crucial step in your treatment journey. Learning more about the causes of nerve compression and the specific types of decompression treatments available can help you better work with your doctor to find lasting relief.
What causes nerve compression in the back?
As we age, the discs, joints and other parts that cushion and link adjacent vertebrae become weak and less able to withstand the stresses placed on them. The weight of the body, combined with the body’s movements, puts more pressure on these parts than they can support. This can result in ruptured discs and inflamed joints that can compress the spinal cord or the nerve roots that branch off into the body. In turn, these nerves send pain signals to different parts of the body.
Knowing when you need back decompression therapy
If your symptoms of spinal discomfort — pain, tingling, numbness and weakness in the extremities — last for several months despite conservative treatments such as physical therapy, stretching and pain medication, your doctor may recommend more involved treatment, including some form of back decompression.
There are a variety of spinal decompression treatments available, including:
- Nonsurgical spinal decompression therapy. Recently approved by the FDA and involves up to 30 sessions during which the patient’s neck or back is placed in a traction girdle. Negative pressure is used to try and pull the disc and disc material back into place.
- Traditional open back decompression surgery. Removal of the spinal anatomy that is compressing on spinal nerves. Spinal fusion with bone grafts and implants may also need to be performed to stabilize the part of the spine where disc or bone was removed. If performed as a traditional open spine procedure, it can involve a large incision, muscle disruption and a long recovery period.
- Minimally invasive spine surgery at USA Spine Care. A less invasive approach is used to remove the source of nerve compression. Our highly skilled surgeons use muscle-sparing techniques that allow for an outpatient procedure with less risk of complication and a shorter recovery time compared to traditional open back surgery.
Learn more about USA Spine Care
If you would like more information about minimally invasive spinal decompression procedures, contact USA Spine Care today. Request a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan* to help you determine if you are a candidate for one of our procedures.