Spinal nerve decompression surgery is a treatment option for relieving chronic pain related to nerve compression. By removing the damaged or displaced tissue that is causing a compressed nerve, also called a pinched nerve, the surgeons are able to help patients achieve meaningful pain relief. Decompression surgery can be performed in nearly any location of the body where nerve compression occurs, with spinal nerve decompression surgery being very common due to the high frequency of neck or back pain.
Due to the high stress of the spine combined with the large volume of nerve tissue in this part of the body, many patients experience chronic pain due to spinal nerve compression. Although nerve decompression surgery is highly effective in achieving pain relief, it’s not for everyone. Here are five major indicators to help you determine if spinal nerve decompression surgery is the best course of treatment for you.
- You Have Debilitating Symptoms Related to a Spine Condition
Not all cases of spinal nerve compression require surgery. In fact, many p[eople experience some degree of spinal narrowing and compression of nerves while dealing with minor symptoms. Very often, these symptoms are manageable through a combination of conservatuve therapy, lifestyle changes, and modifying activities.
Decompression surgery is usually indicated in cases where the following symptoms are causing moderate to severe chronic pain:
- Neck and/or back pain, depending on the location of nerve compression.
- Shooting pain into the upper and lower extremities.
- Neuropathic symptoms, such as tingling and numbness.
- Muscle weakness and spasms that hinder mobility.
- You are Experiencing a Poor Quality of Life
Nerve decompression becomes a serious consideration for patients dealing with the above symptoms that are causing significant disruption in daily activities. Not only can chronic pain related to nerve compression affect your productivity and relationships, but it can also begin to affect mental health, leading to increased risk or depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances. In combination, chronic pain can lead to a major decline in quality of life, with nerve decompression surgery offering the best chance of pain relief for many patients.
However, any form of surgery is a major life decision, which is why a large number of people continue pursuing conservative therapies if they find symptoms to be manageable. Nerve decompression surgery is generally the best course of action when pain is consistently debilitating.
- You Have Fully Exhausted Conservative Treatment Options
Nonsurgical treatment for spinal nerve compression can be very effective, and many patients are able to find lasting relief without the need for surgery. This is why physicians typically start with conservatibve options when diagnosing spinal nerve compression and ensure that they have been thoroughly explored before recommending a spinal decompression surgery.
Decompression surgery can start to be seen as a viable treatment option if you have attempted full course of weeks or months of the following therapies:
- Periods of rest
- Hot and cold therapy
- Physical therapy
- Therapeutic injections
- Anti-inflammatory medications
Conservative treatment can be especially effective for chronic pain related to nerve decompression if combined with a spine-healthy lifestyle.
- You Have Made Any Necessary Lifestyle Adjustments
Patients diagnosed with a spine condition that is causing nerve compression should take steps to limit any stress that is placed on the spine. This typically involves certain lifestyle changes that can promote the overall health of the spine, including:
- Managing weight to reduce pressure on the spine
- Avoiding overexertion
- Strengthening supporting muscles through exercises and physical therapy
- Practicing good posture
- Eating a nutritious diet
Committing fully to nonsurgical treatment and a spine healthy lifestyle helps countless patients achieve significant chronic pain relief without the need for decompression surgery. However, if weeks or months have gone by without any sense of relief, it may be time to explore surgical options.
- You Have an Operable Condition and are a Suitable Candidate
Not all patients who have chronic neck or back pain related to nerve compression are candidates for nerve decompression surgery. First, a surgeon has to positively identify a specific condition, such as a bone spur or herniated disc, as the source of pain. This typically involves diagnostic testing such as an X-Ray or MRI, as well as a spinal nerve block to ensure that the compressed nerve is what is causing the pain.
Additionally, patients will need to pass through a medical screening and evaluation to ensure that they can undergo surgery. Factors that can affect the surgical candidacy are:
- Medical history
- Presence of heart or lung condition
- Previous spine surgery
- Spinal stability
For example, patients with severe spinal degeneration that causes spinal instability may need to undergo spinal fusion instead of spinal decompression surgery. However, due to advances in surgical technique and medical technology, more patients than ever are able to undergo nerve decompression surgery for the spine.
Learn About the Benefits of Minimally Invasive Spinal Decompression Surgery
While many spinal surgeries have long recovery times and are invasive, BEST Health System offers patients access to minimally invasive procedures. If you are living with chronic pain related to a condition causing spinal nerve compression, we want to help you find lasting relief. Reach out to the dedicated team at BEST Health System and get started on your path to recovery. The BEST days are soon to come.