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Decompression Surgery

Decompression surgery is used to treat compressed or trapped nerves in the body. The commonest example of decompression surgery is a Fasciotomy.

spine model

Nerve entrapment

When a nerve becomes ‘trapped’ or squashed, it may be possible to reduce the pressure on the nerve with treatments such as soft tissue manipulation, physiotherapy, anti-inflammatory medications or injections of cortisone. If these are not successful, then a surgical decompression becomes an option. Simply put, the surgery is designed to locate the point of pressure on the nerve and remove the soft tissue structure that is causing the entrapment. The most common example of this is when the soft tissue disc in the spine is pressing onto one of the roots of the sciatic nerve. The surgery aims to remove the piece of disc thereby releasing the nerve and restoring normal function. Another example would be carpal tunnel surgery. The fibrous band at the wrist keeping the tendons, nerves and blood vessels in place may become tight, pressing on the nerves. Dividing the fibrous band releases pressure on the nerve.

Soft Tissue Release

The commonest example is a fasciotomy. The ‘fascia’ is the tissue layer wrapped around local body tissues. It can become tight and put pressure on muscles and joints, causing pain and tightness. A fasciotomy may create more space for the muscles, treating the pain.

After trauma, muscle and soft tissue swelling maybe so severe that the blood vessels (arteries) supplying a limb make be compressed and the limb does not receive its necessary oxygen and nutrients, called ischaemia. If the fascia tissue is not incised (cut) to release the pressure then the tissues in the hands or feet may become necrotic and need to be surgically removed. A fasciotomy can prevent this.

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