Spinal compression can develop from a multitude of situations. It can happen due to a physically traumatic event or simply because of poor posture. No matter the cause, muscle aches, and chronic back pain aren’t fun and can take a significant toll on everyday life if not addressed.
In this blog on spinal decompression surgeries, we’ll answer the following questions:
- What is spinal decompression?
- How does spinal decompression work?
- Why is spinal decompression painful?
- What are the negative effects of spinal decompression?
- How long does spinal decompression last?
- What is the success rate of spinal decompression?
What is Spinal Decompression?
Spinal decompression is a procedure that relieves pressure and pain caused by problems with spinal discs. It targets pain symptoms originating from the spine, including numbness, sciatica, back pain, and foot or leg weakness. Those who qualify for spinal decompression typically have inflammation of the disc or joints around the spinal canal, creating pressure and pain.
How Does Spinal Decompression Work?
There are two spinal decompression methods: surgical and non-surgical. Surgical, the more invasive option, removes portions of the spinal structure under the nerve roots to create space and relieve pressure.
Non-surgical spinal decompression uses either a traction table or a device. As the patient lies on the table, it uses a computerized system and slowly and painlessly stretches the spine and creates negative pressure within the discs. This promotes oxygen and water movement into the discs and helps retract herniated or bulged discs.
At The Pain Center, we offer the TPC Spine Decompress as a non-surgical method that uses a minimally invasive tool that allows us to locate the pain location using a small trocar needle under live x-ray guidance. We use a small rongeur instrument to remove excess bone or tissue and relieve pressure. Following this, we will scrape down the redundant or thickened ligamentum flavum, pushing up against the canal and causing built-up tension.
Why is Spinal Decompression Painful?
While not everyone who undergoes spinal decompression will find it painful, some underlying factors may contribute to more discomfort during the procedure.
Those with a pre-existing condition, such as a herniated disc, may experience temporary pain as the procedure targets inflamed and irritated tissue. If spinal decompression relieves compressed or pinched nerves, the initial release can increase nerve activity and create a painful or tingly sensation.
Pain is relative, so each person’s experience will vary. Some may feel little to no pain, while others may be uncomfortable. The goal is to walk away from the procedure with no pain, so for many, the benefits of spinal decompression outweigh the temporary discomfort.
What are the Negative Effects of Spinal Decompression?
Due to being minimally invasive, most people don’t experience any major side effects following their procedure. The most commonly reported post-effect is a dull soreness lasting for a few weeks. During this time, your body is becoming accustomed to the new, decompressed space the procedure created.
In rare cases, people have had tissue or nerve damage if a qualified medical professional doesn’t perform the procedure correctly. Side effects should only be temporary; if you experience aches and soreness for longer than a couple of weeks, let your doctor know.
How Long Does Spinal Decompression Last?
In terms of sessions, spinal decompression is a 30 to 45-minute procedure, depending on the specific condition being treated and the severity of it. Your treatment plan following the surgery may last several weeks as your body adjusts to the changes.
Usually, doctors advise undergoing two to five weekly sessions for around four to six weeks. Patients with spinal decompression report the effects lasting up to a year after their final treatment.
Continuous treatment is often recommended; a few sessions may be required before your pain diminishes. Spinal decompression therapy, which occurs post-procedure, includes different exercises and stretches that help your body adapt to the changes. The most common stretches utilized in therapy include the arms overhead stretch and the cat and cow stretch. Your physical therapist will often show you how to get into a starting position, gradually stretch, and return to the start position.
What is the Success Rate of Spinal Decompression?
Research shows that spinal decompression is successful in relieving pressure pain in 71% to 89% of patients. One National Institute of Health study reported a 71% success rate in non-surgical spinal decompression patients.
Another study showed that treatment was successful in 71% of the 778 cases when success was defined as a reduction in pain to 0 or 1 on a 0 to 5 scale. Overall, studies and research point to spinal decompression being a solid treatment choice to relieve pain from spinal-related conditions.
TPC Spine Decompress at The Pain Center
TPC Spine Decompress offers a minimally invasive method of pain relief for patients with spinal stenosis. In this treatment procedure, a small trocar needle is used to locate where the narrowing is causing the pain is occurring. Following this, we use a small instrument called the rongeur to remove excessive bone or tissue to open the area.