Decompression surgery is a treatment for relieving chronic pain related to nerve compression. By removing the tissue causing a compressed nerve, also called a pinched nerve, surgeons are able to help achieve pain relief.
Decompression surgery can be performed in nearly any location of the body where nerve compression occurs. Spinal nerve decompression surgery is very common due to the high amount of neck and back pain.
Because of the stress on 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 ways to help you decide if spinal nerve decompression surgery is the best course of treatment for you.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about your treatment options, don’t hesitate to reach out to the caring and dedicated team at BEST Health System today.
1. You have debilitating symptoms related to a spine condition
Not all cases of spinal nerve compression require surgery. In fact, many people experience some degree of compression of nerves while dealing with minor symptoms. Very often, these are manageable through conservative therapy, lifestyle changes, and changing activities.
Decompression surgery is usually for cases where the following symptoms are causing moderate to severe chronic pain and do not respond to treatment:
- Neck and/or back pain, depending on the location of nerve compression
- Shooting pain into the upper or lower extremities
- Neuropathic symptoms, such as tingling and numbness
- Muscle weakness and spasms that hinder mobility
2. You are experiencing reduced quality of life
Nerve decompression becomes a serious option for people 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 an increased risk of 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 nonsurgical therapies if they find symptoms to be manageable. Nerve decompression surgery is generally the best course of action when pain is persistently debilitating.
3. You have fully explored other treatments
Nonsurgical treatment for nerve compression can be very effective, and many people find lasting relief without needing surgery. That is why doctors usually start with these options when diagnosing spinal nerve compression and ensure they have been fully attempted before recommending a patient for surgery.
Decompression surgery can start to be seen as a treatment option if you have attempted a full course of the following:
- Periods of rest
- Hot and cold therapy on the area to help relax tense muscles and relieve inflammation
- Physical therapy
- Therapeutic injections
- Over-the-counter medication, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Nonsurgical treatment can be especially effective for chronic pain related to nerve compression if combined with a spine-healthy lifestyle.
4. You have made any needed lifestyle changes
Patients diagnosed with a spine condition causing nerve compression should take steps to limit the stress placed on the spine. This often involves certain lifestyle changes that promote the overall health of the spine, including:
- Managing weight
- Avoiding overexertion
- Strengthening supporting muscles through exercise and physical therapy
- Practicing good posture to avoid uneven stress on the spine
- Eating a nutrient-rich anti-inflammatory diet
Committing fully to nonsurgical treatment and a healthy lifestyle helps a large number of people achieve significant chronic pain relief without the need for decompression surgery. However, if weeks or months have gone by without bringing relief, it may be time to explore surgical options.
5. You are a good candidate for surgery
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 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 pain.
Additionally, patients will need a thorough medical screening and evaluation. Factors that affect surgical candidacy include:
- Medical history
- Presence of a heart or lung condition
- Previous spine surgery
- Spinal stability
For example, patients with severe spinal instability may need to undergo spinal fusion instead of nerve 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 decompression surgery
At BEST Health System, our highly skilled surgeons perform minimally invasive surgery that allows for a streamlined, outpatient procedure. If you are living with chronic pain related to a condition causing spinal nerve compression, we want to help you no matter where you are on your treatment journey. From pain-relieving injections to outpatient nerve decompression, our experts can help you with a personalized treatment plan.
Contact us today to learn more about your treatment options.