What is lumbar decompression surgery?

Lumbar decompression surgery is a simple and efficient spinal surgery procedure involving removing tissue that compresses the nerves around your lower spine (e.g., bulging discs, bone spurs, tumours). Creating space around your nerves effectively resolves symptoms such as pain, numbness, tingling or weakness in your lower back, legs or buttocks.

This type of surgical intervention has been scientifically proven to provide effective relief for sciatica and other neurological symptoms caused by back and spine conditions, such as:

  • Cauda equina syndrome
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Spinal injury
  • Spinal tumours

Types of lumbar decompression surgery

Discectomy — If you have a herniated disc, the surgeon will cut out the bulging portion that compresses your nerve while preserving the rest of the disc.

Laminectomy — The procedure involves the removal of bone, tumours or other types of tissue which put pressure on your nerve.

Spinal fusion — If 2 of your vertebrae move too much, trapping your nerve between them, the surgeon may insert a small piece of bone from a donor area (usually the hip) between them, joining them together.

Interspinous distraction — If you have a spinal canal narrowing (i.e. spinal stenosis), a spacer may be inserted between the spinous processes of adjacent vertebrae. Spinous processes are bony projections that extend backwards from the vertebral arch of each vertebra. 

Sometimes, a combination of these types of decompression surgery may be performed as needed.

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Decompression Surgery FAQs

Discover more about getting spinal decompression surgery at our London clinic by reading the answers to these frequently asked questions:

Studies show spinal decompression surgery to be very effective in treating nerve pain, as more than 80% of patients report a good outcome at their 12-month follow-up, and most patients report a more than 50%-70% pain reduction 6 months post-surgery.

While you should be able to walk unassisted as soon as one day after surgery, it could take up to 3 months to be able to resume unrestricted activity (e.g. heavier lifting or strenuous exercise).   

While all surgeries carry certain risks and take some time to recover from fully, you may be eligible for minimally invasive lumbar decompression surgery. This involves making very small incisions, which cause less damage to surrounding tissues and lead to faster recovery.

Spinal decompression surgery is normally recommended after non-surgical treatments for your back pain haven’t produced results. However, it can also represent an emergency treatment for patients with cauda equina syndrome (a severe narrowing of the spinal canal, which manifests with urinary and faecal incontinence).

Like every surgery, spinal decompression carries a risk of infection and blood clot formation. Rare complications may include damage to the spinal nerves or cord. However, with minimally invasive decompression surgery, 90% of patients will not experience any complications, and another 9.3% will only experience minor ones.

Spinal decompression surgery costs

Flexible Payment Options to Suit You

Payment Plans

Spread the cost of your medical treatment over several months with our finance options and medical payment plans. This is ideal for patients seeking the speed and comfort of private healthcare without significant upfront payments.


Use our self-payment options to get prompt care with the consultant of your choice. Patients looking for fast, efficient treatment without private health insurance are welcome to pay for treatment before their procedure.

Private Medical Insurance

We welcome patients with private medical insurance from approved insurers, including Bupa, AXA, Aviva, and many more. Find out how to claim for your treatment with private health insurance to get optimum care and comfort.

Private medical insurance we accept

Learn more about decompression surgery

Understand more about spinal decompression surgery and how it can help improve your pain and restore your quality of life.

While most patients only need a single decompression surgery, depending on their condition, approximately 16% of patients will require a second intervention at some point in life.

Most patients are free to go home the day after surgery. However, if the procedure is more complex or if you are at risk for complications, you may need to stay 2-3 extra days for observation to ensure that you are well.

Your level of post-surgery pain depends on many factors, some patients are fine taking over-the-counter painkillers, while others may need prescription medication. Our pain management consultants will provide you with the best ways to manage any post-operative discomfort. 

Most patients are well enough to return to work 4-8 weeks after regular decompression surgery and only 2 weeks after the minimally invasive variety.  However, if your job involves strenuous activities (e.g. heavy lifting, extensive driving), you may need to wait 3-6 months before resuming professional activity.

Most patients are free to drive as soon as they are off any painkillers that cause drowsiness, and they can sit comfortably behind the wheel. For some, this can be the next day post-operation, but for most, it can take 2-6 weeks.

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