Two general types of lumbar spine surgery comprise the most common surgical procedures for the lower back: decompression and spinal fusion.
- Decompression surgery involves removing a small portion of the bone over the nerve root and/or disc material from under the nerve root to relieve pinching of the nerve and provide more room for the nerve to heal (a microdiscectomy or laminectomy).
- Lumbar spinal fusion involves using a bone graft to stop the motion at a painful vertebral segment, which in turn should decrease pain generated from the joint. Spine surgery instrumentation (medical devices), bone graft procedures, and the bone stimulator are sometimes used along with spinal fusion surgery. For more information, see:
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It should be known that while spinal fusion has been a classical treatment for ongoing pain from the lumbar spine, alternatives to fusion do exist for posterior conditions (problems in the back of the lumbar spine) such as spinal stenosis. Inserting an interspinous process spacer like the X-STOP device can actually preserve motion as opposed to stopping it via fusion. For more information, see Posterior Motion Preservation Spine Surgery: Alternative to Spinal Fusion.