The Most Common Types of Spine Surgery

Back pain is among the most common chronic pain conditions and is often successfully treated with medications and conservative management. However, some people fail to respond to these therapies and are thus considered for surgical treatment.

Doctors only recommend surgery when all other measures have failed, as spinal surgery is complex. The spinal nerves innervate the whole body below the neck. These nerves play an important role in both sensation and movement.

However, the spine is also prone to injuries and degenerative diseases resulting in severe pain caused by nerve compression. Hence, doctors sometimes need to reduce the pressure on nerves through surgery, thus helping overcome pain and improve quality of life.

People are more likely to require spine surgery due to herniated disk, spinal stenosis, vertebral fractures, degenerative disk disease, and other issues.

Some of the common spine surgery types are:

• Spinal laminectomy/decompression: In some people, spinal stenosis causes spinal canal narrowing, thus causing pressure on the passing nerves resulting in loss of sensation and pain in some body parts. Quite often, it occurs due to overgrowth of bone parts, and thus surgery involves removing that bony overgrowths(1).

• Discectomy/Disc Replacement: In some individuals, the spinal disc is badly damaged; thus, the only way for pain to be relieved is to remove the disc. Doctors may also need to carry out laminectomy at the same time to reduce pressure on the nerves. Doctors may also offer patients artificial disk replacement, as replacing the disk with a synthetic disk may help maintain a range of motion(2).

• Foraminotomy: Quite often, the cause of pain is due to narrowing the bony hole through which nerves exit the spinal cord. Thus, foraminotomy is about enlarging this hole and thus reducing the pressure on that specific bone(3).

• Kyphoplasty: It is among the more innovative ways to treat spinal issues, especially in those with compression fractures due to osteoporosis, causing weakening and demineralization of bones. In the procedure, doctors would inject glue-like bone cement into the bones to harden them, thus repairing vertebral bone and preventing future issues(4).

• Spinal Fusion: Some people have a defect in the spine which causes instability resulting in severe pain. This defect can be a long-standing issue which worsens with time or related to a traumatic event with a more acute onset of symptoms. Patients will generally experience back and/or leg pain which is worsened by bending or extending of the back or neck. The best treatment option for this condition is to stabilize those vertebrae and to restore the normal
balance of the spine(5). Minimally invasive techniques have drastically reduced postoperative pain and recovery time(6).

Spinal surgery is among the most complex procedures. Hence, doctors would only carry out this kind of surgery after extensive testing when they are quite sure that surgical intervention would provide pain relief. The properly performed spine surgery is generally life-changing, resulting in considerably reduced pain and disability, increasing patients function and quality of life.

Our dedicated team of spine surgeons at Total Orthopedics & Sports Medicine treats all conditions using advanced microsurgical techniques and minimally invasive spine surgery. We also perform endoscopic spine procedures and minimally invasive spine fusion as well as artificial disc replacements and other motion-sparing procedures. Contact us today to learn more about treatment options.

1. Estefan M, Munakomi S, Camino Willhuber GO. Laminectomy. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing;
2022. Accessed October 1, 2022.
2. Butler AJ, Donnally III CJ. Discectomy. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022. Accessed
October 1, 2022.
3. Ahn Y, Oh HK, Kim H, Lee SH, Lee HN. Percutaneous Endoscopic Lumbar Foraminotomy: An
Advanced Surgical Technique and Clinical Outcomes. Neurosurgery. 2014;75(2):124-133.
4. Wang, B., Zhao, CP., Song, LX. et al. Balloon kyphoplasty versus percutaneous vertebroplasty for
osteoporotic vertebral compression fracture: a meta-analysis and systematic review. J Orthop Surg
Res 13, 264 (2018).
5. Reid, P. C., Morr, S., & Kaiser, M. G. (2019). State of the union: a review of lumbar fusion
indications and techniques for degenerative spine disease, Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine SPI, 31(1),
1-14. Retrieved Nov 4, 2022, from
6. Elmekaty M, Kotani Y, Mehy EE, Robinson Y, Tantawy AE, Sekiguchi I, Fujita R. Clinical and
Radiological Comparison between Three Different Minimally Invasive Surgical Fusion Techniques for
Single-Level Lumbar Isthmic and Degenerative Spondylolisthesis: Minimally Invasive Surgical
Posterolateral Fusion versus Minimally Invasive Surgical Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion
versus Midline Lumbar Fusion. Asian Spine J. 2018 Oct;12(5):870-879. doi:
10.31616/asj.2018.12.5.870. Epub 2018 Sep 10. PMID: 30213170; PMCID: PMC6147873. x
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