Interspinous Process Decompression

Interspinous Process Decompression is a procedure that uses a spacer to separate spine ligaments to relieve back pain and numbness in the legs caused by lumbar spinal stenosis.

This titanium alloy spacer is implanted during a minimally invasive outpatient surgical procedure, usually performed under local anesthesia and sedation. This procedure is an alternative to laminectomy or spinal fusion.

While these spacers are designed to remain between the spinous processes permanently to prevent the nerves from being pinched, the spacer can be removed. Since there is no structurally significant bone removed during the procedure, the spacer may provide you and your doctor with the option to consider additional treatments at a later time if your spinal condition progresses.

What Is It?

An interspinous spacer is an implant designed to keep the space between your spinous processes open so that when you stand upright, the nerves in your back will not be pinched or cause pain.

By enlarging the space between the bones in your back, the spacer reduces pressure on the spinal nerves, thereby alleviating the symptoms of spinal stenosis, including:

  • Leg pain, cramping
  • Numbness or tingling in the lower back, buttocks, and legs

The spacer is designed to remain permanently in place without attaching screws or hardware to the bone or ligaments in your back. Because the bone and tissue removal typically associated with traditional back surgery is usually not necessary with a spacer, the spine’s natural anatomy is able to be preserved.


After the procedure, while your doctor may impose limitations on your physical activities in the weeks following your operation, you may be able to travel and engage in light activity as soon as you feel able.

In some cases, regular activities may be resumed within 2-6 weeks after the procedure, provided your doctor has permitted you to do so.

The X-STOP Spacer

Currently, the X-STOP® Spacer is the only interspinous spacer approved by the FDA in the United States to treat the symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS)

Video Overview: Interspinous Process Decompression (X-STOP)