What Is the Most Common Spine Surgery?

Medically Reviewed on 11/4/2021

Most common spine surgeries 

Spine surgery is often an excellent option to provide pain relief for pain and discomfort due to a spinal condition. The most common type of spine surgery in the U.S. is spinal decompression and fusion.
Spine surgery is often an excellent option to provide pain relief for pain and discomfort due to a spinal condition. The most common type of spine surgery in the U.S. is spinal decompression and fusion.

For people going through discomfort or pain due to a spinal condition, spine surgery is often an excellent option to provide pain relief. It also helps the individual get back to their daily activities and move comfortably again. 

However, spine surgery is not the first option doctors recommend. If your doctor is signing you up for spinal surgery, they must have tried all other possible treatments before that. 

The most common type of spine surgery in the U.S. is spinal decompression and fusion. In this surgery, pressure is taken off the pinched nerves to make the spine stable. The surgeon relieves the stress from the spinal cord and then stabilizes it by using hardware to anchor the bones in the spine. 

Your spinal surgery options may stabilize your spine or relieve pressure from the nerves. Some types of surgeries combine both options. 

Here are some other common spinal surgeries: 

  • Diskectomy: In this procedure, herniated disk material is removed from the spine. Disks are cushions between your vertebrae that separate them from each other. If they slip out of place, they can cause lower back pain. Typically, this material is pressing on the spinal cord or the nerves. The pressure is lessened by removing the disk. 
  • Laminectomy: In this procedure, the surgeon opens a particular location in the spine and removes a part of the vertebral bone to relieve pressure from the area. The surgeon may remove bone spurs, ligaments, or a section of the bone from the spine. This helps reduce pressure from the nerves in the spinal cord. Although it helps against pain, this procedure can lower the stability of your spine. In that case, you will require spinal fusion surgery. Your doctor may do both these surgeries together. 
  • Anterior Cervical Discectomy: This spinal surgery is performed on the neck. A disk from the spine is removed, and the space is filled by a spacer. Then, instruments such as screws and plates keep the spine stable while the vertebrae fuse, as they can take a few months to join properly. 
  • Artificial Disk Replacement: People whose disks are severely damaged are candidates for this surgery. The surgeon removes the damaged disks and replaces them with synthetic disks to restore movement and space between vertebrae. 

What is the most common lower back surgery?

The most common lower back surgery is spinal fusion. The surgery is for nonspecific back pain. The doctor joins your vertebrae, or spinal bones, together in a process called fusion. 

A drawback of this surgery is that it limits your range of motion. It also determines the distance your nerves can stretch. But it won't affect your activity level. 

What is the most common spinal fusion?

Spinal fusion surgeries are surgeries in which the doctor joins the vertebrae of your spine together. The most common type of spinal fusions is lumbar fusions. The lumbar region is commonly called the lower back and has five vertebrae. 

Two hundred ten thousand lumbar fusions are performed in the U.S. every year as compared to 157,000 cervical fusions and 24,000 thoracic fusions. 

When should you consider back surgery?

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases says that you are a likely candidate for spine surgery if you have: 

  • Herniated disks, a condition in which one or more disks in your spine are damaged. 
  • Vertebral fractures due to injury or osteoporosis, a condition in which you have less bone strength and mass.
  • Spinal stenosis, a condition in which the spinal column narrows and puts pressure on the nerves and the spinal cord. 
  • Degenerative disk disease, which refers to disk damage due to age. 
  • Spondylolisthesis, a condition in which bones move out of place in the spine.

Sometimes, your back pain may be due to an infection or a tumor. In such cases, surgery is often the only option. 

How long does spine surgery take?

The duration of a spine surgery depends on its type and the severity of the condition. Some other factors that determine how long it will take are: 

  • The number of vertebrae fused 
  • The severity of damage to the vertebrae
  • Whether nerves in the spinal cord are pinched
  • Scarring from previous surgeries 

Is back surgery worth the risk?

Spine surgery can have several risks if you are obese, have had surgery before, or smoke.

If no other treatments have worked to relieve your pain, considering surgery might be a good approach. Talk to your doctor about spinal surgery options if your pain is not going away and has disturbed your daily life activities. 


The most significant risk of spine surgeries is the uncertainty they will help lower your pain. Your best bet is to talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have and know what to expect from your surgery. 


Nearly everyone has low back pain at some time during their life. See Answer

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Medically Reviewed on 11/4/2021

American Society of Anesthesiologists: "Back Surgery."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Laminectomy."

Neurology and Neuroscience: "Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF) Surgery."

Spine: "Spinal Fusion in the United States Analysis of Trends From 1998 to 2008."

WebMD: "Back Surgery: Pros and Cons."