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Spinal Decompression for Neck Pain

Topic Overview

Spinal decompression surgery reduces pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerve roots and may reduce neck pain. To relieve the pressure, your doctor may remove:

  • Bony growths (bone spurs or osteophytes) and fibrous tissue that are narrowing the spinal canal and pressing on spinal nerve roots.
  • Parts of the vertebrae (laminectomy) to enlarge the spinal canal, to relieve pressure on the spinal nerve roots.
  • Disc material (discectomy) from a herniated disc that pushes into the spinal canal.

In some cases, after bone and disc material are removed, the affected bone (vertebrae) parts may be joined together (spinal fusion) to stabilize them.

Surgery is only done to relieve severe symptoms of neck pain caused by pressure on the nerve roots (especially from a herniated disc). This pressure on the nerve roots may also cause arm pain, numbness, or tingling; leg pain, numbness, or tingling; or problems with bladder or bowel control. In these cases, surgery may not help the neck pain itself, but it usually helps relieve other symptoms. But even neck pain caused by pressure on the nerve roots is usually first treated without surgery.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
Last Revised July 30, 2012

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