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What Is Spinal Decompression?

Spinal decompression is a type of treatment for back pain. Decompression can be done both surgically and non-surgically. With both treatments, the goal is to stretch your spine and change its position to take pressure off of your spinal discs. This can help relieve pain.

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Conditions Treated By Decompression Therapy

Spinal decompression may be used to treat the following symptoms and conditions:

Decompression Therapy

Decompression therapy is a non-surgical treatment that helps relieve back pain caused by pressure in your spine. During non-surgical spinal compression, your health care provider may use traction to slowly stretch and relax your back. This stretching may help your spine reposition itself, which may reduce your pain.

There are different techniques for decompression therapy. Some health care providers place a harness around the hips. The harness may be attached to a motorized table that slowly moves the lower part of your body back and forth to relax your spine.

Spinal Decompression Surgery

Doctors can use two procedures to perform surgical spinal decompression, also called spinal decompression. Surgeons can use microdiscectomy or laminectomy. Both procedures remove pressure from the disks inside your spine.


During a laminectomy, your surgeon will remove a part of or your entire vertebral bone, also called the lamina. Removing a piece of your vertebral bone helps take pressure off of your spinal cord or nerve roots. Many things can cause pressure inside your spine. These can include herniated disks, spinal stenosis (when space inside your spine narrows), tumors, and injury.

Doctors only consider laminectomies if other medical treatments haven’t improved a patient’s pain.


During a microdiscectomy, surgeons remove materials from herniated disks inside your spine that are pressing on your spinal cord. These herniated disk materials can also put pressure on nerve roots. Surgeons can relieve pain in your lower back by removing these materials.

To do the procedure, surgeons use a high-powered microscope to see your disk and nerves. This high-powered microscope helps surgeons make smaller incisions (cuts) on your back to remove the disk material. Making smaller cuts also protects the delicate tissues around your spine, causing less damage.

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If you are suffering from back, neck, or spine pain, call us to schedule an evaluation. You will receive recommendations from our expert, fellowship-trained specialists who will work with you to develop a customized treatment plan.

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Picture of Dan Owens riding his bike over a bridge with his wife

Meet Our Patients

For years, Dan Owens suffered excruciating back pain, barely managing to make his way between the bed, a nearby bathroom, and a chair only feet away. After many diagnoses and failed treatments for pain management, he grew discouraged. In August 2018, an MRI revealed he had spinal stenosis (severe narrowing caused by arthritis and degenerative disk disease), which exerts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves.

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