RELIEVING SPINAL PRESSURE THROUGH DECOMPRESSION
November 6, 2015 by: Luis Manuel Tumialan MD
Spinal compression may be caused by a number of factors. Essentially, any condition that places added pressure on the spinal cord (either suddenly or over time) is knows as spinal compression. Below are some known causes of spinal compression:
- Bones: Broken bones, herniated discs, bones that have become dislocated, or those that have grown abnormally can all compress the spinal cord.
- Connective tissue: The connective tissue that lines the spinal canal often enlarges and hardens as a person ages. This can narrow the spinal canal and compress the spinal cord.
- Hematoma: If blood pools around the spinal cord, compression can occur. A hematoma is often the result of an injury, but can also be a result of other disorders.
- Tumors: Any growth on or near the spine may result in spinal cord compression.
Signs of Spinal Compression
Even in cases of minor compression, a patient is likely to experience some side effects. Below are some signs that a patient’s spinal cord may be compressed:
- Back pain
- Pain that radiates down the legs
- Tingling or numbness
- Change in sensations
- Erectile dysfunction in men
- Loss of bladder and bowel control (likely only in cases of severe compression)
Any of these symptoms should be reported to a doctor so that a physical exam and MRI can be scheduled to diagnose the condition.
Treating Spine Compression
There are several possible treatments for spine compression. Which treatment is best will be partially dependent on what is causing the compression. However, the severity of the compression will also be considered. It is important to note that patients should always try the least invasive treatment methods first. Some non-invasive treatments for spinal cord compression include the following:
- Weight loss
- Core strength exercises
- Non-surgical decompression (stretching the spine on a traction table)
- Corticosteroid shots
- Drainage of any abscesses or hematomas
- Radiation therapy for tumors (either with or without surgery)
If non-invasive treatment proves unsuccessful, Dr. Tumialán can offer patients minimally invasive surgical treatment. Again, depending on the source of spinal compression, Dr. Tumialán may offer either of the following treatments:
- Minimally invasive lumbar laminectomy: This procedure uses a small port on the lower spine that grants Dr. Tumialán access to the spinal cord so that a portion of the lamina (part of the vertebral bone) or overgrown ligaments can be removed. This can relieve pressure from the spinal cord and restore patient comfort.
- Minimally invasive lumbar microdiscectomy: This procedure is a minimally invasive technique that allows Dr. Tumialán to remove the portion of a herniated disc that may be placing pressure on the nerves or lower back.
Because these procedures are minimally invasive, patients will benefit from smaller incisions and a reduced recovery time.
Schedule an Appointment
If you are suffering from back pain or other uncomfortable side effects that you believe are a result of spinal compression, schedule an appointment with Dr. Luis Manuel Tumialán to discuss your condition. Dr. Tumialán will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding treatment and will let you know if minimally invasive spine procedures may offer the relief you’re looking for.
If you are struggling with pain, weakness, loss of function, or other symptoms of spinal complications, contact Dr. Tumialán's office today.