Types of Decompression Surgery

When back pain is caused by pinched nerves, decompression surgery is often recommended to alleviate the pressure on the nerves within the back causing the discomfort and pain. Microdiscectomy and lumbar laminectomy are the two most common forms of decompression surgery performed to relieve back pain stemming from pinched nerves.


Micro-decompression (microdiscectomy) is meant to relieve pain resulting from a lumbar herniated disc. This procedure is typically recommended for patients with sciatica, or pain radiating down the leg stemming from a herniated disc. It should be noted that this procedure tends to be more effective for treating disc-related leg pain rather than back pain.

Lumbar Laminectomy

Open decompression (lumbar laminectomy) is usually recommended for patients with lumbar spinal stenosis, which affects the nerve root. The goal of this procedure is to provide additional room for the nerve root, thereby reducing the pain. A lumbar laminectomy may also relieve any related leg weakness, allowing patients to resume their normal daily activities without discomfort.

Determining the Success of Decompression Surgery

Patients do not usually notice immediate results following decompression surgery. Typically, it’s not until after the first two or three months following surgery that a determination can be made regarding the outcome of the surgery since the body needs time to heal properly. Success/failure determinations include:

  • No improvement after three months – The surgery is considered to be ineffective and other treatment options are pursued.
  • Improvement after three months – If patients are noticing some improvement after three months, recovery is likely to continue.

Am I a Candidate for Decompression Surgery?

To see if you are a candidate for decompression surgery or to find out more about available surgical procedures, call (310) 828-7757 and speak with the spinal specialists at The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration. As a leading center for spine surgery in Santa Monica, we have a talented team of interventionalists and surgeons who can help you find the right treatment to put an end to your back or neck pain. Reach out to us today – we look forward to hearing from you!