Types of Spinal Surgeries
An estimated eight out of every ten people will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Back pain is one of the most common reasons people visit a physician. It can be caused by normal wear and tear, overuse, injuries, muscles, bones, nerves, or discs. The most common causes of back pain are muscular irritation and joint dysfunction.
Conservative treatments, such as physical therapy or medications, often help ease back pain. However, certain situations or conditions may require surgical treatment.
Types of spinal surgery
Most common spine surgeries fall into two categories, which are decompression and stabilization. These categories may be combined during surgery. There are four common types of spinal surgeries that represent about 90 percent of all procedures. They include laminectomy, discectomy, spinal fusion, and disk replacement.
Decompression spinal surgeries
Decompression surgery may relieve pain caused by nerve compression by creating additional space to reduce pressure on the nerves or the spinal cord. The two most common types of decompression surgeries include laminectomy and discectomy.
- Laminectomy. During a laminectomy, the surgeon removes the lamina (part of the vertebrae bone) of one or more vertebrae to create more space for the nerves. In severe cases, parts of the joints between vertebrae may also be removed. A laminectomy can ease pain associated with spinal stenosis, arthritis, or degenerative disc disease (DDD).
- Discectomy. A discectomy involves the removal of the damaged disk to relieve pressure on the nerves. A surgeon performs a discectomy through the back or the neck. A discectomy can reduce pain caused by sciatica, herniated disc, or a ruptured or bulging disc.
Stabilization spinal surgery
Stabilization surgery can help correct deformities, improve stability, and reduce pain. Oftentimes, rods, screws or plates are used to eliminate or reduce motion between vertebrae. Spinal fusion and disc replacement are the two most common types of stabilization spinal surgery.
- Spinal fusion surgery. Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure that involves fusing two or more vertebrae permanently together to reduce or eliminate pain. The spine of an average adult consists of 24 vertebrae (bones). During a spinal fusion, a bone graft or bonelike material is used between spinal bones to create one solid structure with no space. Rods, metal plates, or screws are used to hold the bone and vertebrae in place until they grow together.
- Disc replacement. Artificial disc surgery is an option for specific cases, as it only works on certain discs in the lower back. Discs are the cushions between the vertebrae; they keep the back pliable and enable the body to bend, twist, and carry weight. These discs can become damaged or dry out and lose flexibility. During a disc replacement surgery, the damaged disc is replaced with one made of plastic or metal. The new disc helps keep the spine stable to improve mobility.