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Spinal Decompression for Neck Pain


Topic Overview

Spinal decompression surgery reduces pressure on the spinal cordClick here to see an illustration. 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 canalClick here to see an illustration. 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 discClick here to see an illustration. 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

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerRobert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
Last RevisedJuly 30, 2012

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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