Back pain that keeps you from doing your regular everyday activities may warrant a surgical procedure for treatment. A back surgery laminectomy is a surgical procedure in which a surgeon takes out all or a portion of the lamina or vertebral bone. This relieves pressure on the spine or nerve roots induced by injuries, herniated disks, tumors, or, canal constriction/spinal stenosis. A laminectomy is performed only after all other medical interventions do not work.

If you are experiencing neck and back pain that has been caused by a strain or an injury to your tendons and muscles, you can contact the LAMIS Institute in Los Angeles. We provide a broad spectrum of treatments to help you manage severe as well as chronic spinal issues. We will assist you in determining the best course of action for your specific condition and offer you the best possible care for a fast recovery.

An Overview of Laminectomy

Laminectomy is a procedure that involves the removal of the lamina from a patient’s lower spine. The lamina is the curved section of a person’s vertebra that shields the spinal canal. A lumbar laminectomy surgery sometimes referred to as decompression surgery, expands the spinal canal to ease pressure on your spinal cord and nerve roots.

The pressure is mostly induced by the bony overgrowths in a patient’s spinal canal, which can often occur in patients with spinal arthritis. Such overgrowths are widely known as bone spurs, and they're also a common side effect of the natural process of aging in certain patients.

Lumbar laminectomy surgery is often utilized only when other therapies, such as prescriptions, injections, or physiotherapy, have not succeeded in relieving symptoms. If your symptoms are serious or worsening at a faster rate, a laminectomy surgery could be recommended.

Why is a Laminectomy Performed?

Lower neck or back pain can span from dull, mild, and unpleasant to chronic, severe, and incapacitating. The capacity to function and move can be impeded by the pain in the spine. Spinal laminectomy is a medical procedure that is used to relieve the pressure on a patient's spinal nerves, address a problem with a disk, or get rid of a tumor from the spinal column.

Among the most common reasons for undergoing a laminectomy is a herniated disk in the spinal cord.

The disk could become dislocated or damaged as a result of injuries or natural wear and tear. Whenever a disk pushes against the spinal nerves, it produces numbness, pain, as well as weakness. This weakness or numbness will be perceived in the affected body part, which is usually the legs or arms. Sciatica is one of the most widespread indicators of a herniated disk. Sciatica is a sharp, piercing pain that runs from the backside to the thighs and through the rear of the leg across the sciatic nerve.

If conventional treatments fail, spinal laminectomy could be an option. The following are some medical therapies for pain:

  • Modifications in activities
  • Medicines like muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatory medications, and pain medications
  • Loss of weight (if the patient is overweight)
  • Spinal injections
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physiotherapy, rehabilitation, or a combination of the two
  • Assistive equipment, like mechanical back braces
  •  Quitting smoking

Back surgery laminectomy is commonly used to alleviate back or neck discomfort that persists despite medical intervention. It's also done if this pain is coupled with nerve damage symptoms like weakness or numbness in the legs or arms. Surgery is often required when bladder or bowel control is lost due to strain in the lumbar or cervical spine.

There could be various reasons that could cause your doctor to recommend a lumbar laminectomy surgery.

Possible Risks of a Spinal Laminectomy

Like with any surgical operation, complications could arise. The following are some examples of possible risks:

  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots in the lungs or legs
  • Infection
  • Injuries to the nerve roots or spinal cord 
  • Risks associated with general anesthesia

Injuries to nerves or the blood vessels in the surgical area are possible. This could result in weakness or numbness. The surgery might not relieve the discomfort or it could make it worse, though that is uncommon

Additional risks could exist, based on your health status. Before the procedure, make sure to share any worries you have with the healthcare provider.

What Should I Do to Prepare For Laminectomy Surgery?

Before the back surgery laminectomy, you will receive in-depth directives from your surgeon's personnel on how you should prepare during one of your routine visits.

An x-ray of your spine will be taken. You might also undergo a Ct Myelogram or MRI before the surgery to establish if you do have spinal stenosis. You might also have already received spinal injections previously to identify which region of your spine is causing you pain.

During the days leading up to your surgical procedure:

  • Your healthcare professional will discuss the process with you as well as allow you to express any concerns you may have
  • You'll be requested to sign an agreement form giving consent for the procedure to take place. If anything is unclear, study the paperwork thoroughly and ask for clarifications
  • Your healthcare professional may perform a physical examination along with a detailed medical history to ensure that you're in excellent health before undertaking the treatment. You could be subjected to blood testing or any other diagnostic procedures
  • If you're allergic or sensitive to any drugs, tape, latex, or anesthetic drugs either general or local, inform your healthcare professional
  • Inform your doctor about all of the prescription as well as over-the-counter medications, along with any herbal supplements you're using
  • If you've had a record of bleeding issues or are using any blood-thinning or anticoagulant medications, aspirin, or any other blood-clotting-affecting medications, notify your health care professional. Before the operation, you could be advised to cease taking certain medications
  • Inform your healthcare practitioner if you're pregnant or suspect you might be
  • Follow any instructions provided to you about avoiding drinking or eating before the procedure
  • A sedative could be administered before the procedure to calm you down
  • You might have a meeting with a physiotherapist before the surgical procedure to talk about recovery
  • Some activities could be restricted following the surgery. Make arrangements for somebody to assist you with housekeeping chores and transportation for several days
  • Your healthcare practitioner might give you additional recommendations depending on your medical situation

What Happens During a Laminectomy Surgery?

A lumbar laminectomy generally warrants a hospital stay. Treatments may differ based on your situation and the practices of your doctor. Laminectomy surgery can be performed while you're under general anesthesia and asleep. It can also be performed while you're awake if you are under spinal anesthesia. You will lose feeling from the waist down when spinal anesthesia has been administered. Whichever way is used, you won’t feel any pain throughout the procedure. Newer procedures are being created that may allow a laminectomy surgery to be performed as an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia. Your physician will go over this with you beforehand.

In most cases, during a laminectomy procedure:

  • You'll be instructed to take off your clothes and handed a gown to put on
  • An intravenous line will then be inserted into your hand or arm
  • Once you're under anesthesia and asleep, a urinary drainage tube is inserted
  • When there is excess hair covering the surgery site, the hair could be cut off
  • You'll be placed on the operation table either on your belly or on your side
  • During the procedure, your anesthesiologist will monitor your blood pressure, pulse rate, respiration, and oxygen levels in the blood
  • An antiseptic will be used to disinfect the skin around the surgery site
  • Your surgeon will then make an incision over the desired vertebra
  • He or she then will spread apart the skin, muscles as well as ligaments and uses a surgical microscope which he or she uses to see the inside of your back
  • The surgeon can perform a foraminotomy which will widen the aperture in which the nerve roots move through the spine
  • To relieve tension on the surrounding nerves, your surgeon will remove the bony arch from the hind section of the lamina. This might entail the removal of bone spurs or overgrowths, as well as the removal of a whole or section of a herniated disk
  • Spinal fusion could be performed concurrently in some situations. For a spinal fusion procedure, your surgeon will join two or more vertebrae in your spinal column
  • Surgical staples or stitches will be used to seal the incision
  • A sterilized bandage or dressing is then applied over the incision
  • This surgery takes approximately one to three hours

What You Should Expect After a Laminectomy

While at the Hospital

You'll be brought to the hospital's recovery room for monitoring once the surgery is complete. Your healthcare team will watch you for any complications from the surgical procedure and anesthesia. Your physician could prescribe pain medications to ease the pain in the surgical incision area.

You will then be transported to your room at the hospital after your pulse, blood pressure, as well as breathing, have stabilized and you're conscious.

A laminectomy often necessitates a one or two-day stay at the medical institution. After your laminectomy surgery, your doctor might recommend physiotherapy to help you restore flexibility and strength. You could be capable of returning to work within several weeks, based on how much walking, or sitting your occupation requires. Your recovery period will be extended if you also underwent a spinal fusion. Your doctor might recommend an exercise regimen to follow while still at the hospital and also after you've been discharged.

While At Home

It's critical to always keep your surgical incision region dry and clean once you've returned home. Your medical provider will provide you with special bathing recommendations. The stitches or surgical staples are taken out during a follow-up appointment.

Take pain medication as directed by your healthcare professional for pain. Aspirin and several other pain relievers might raise the risk of bleeding. Make sure to take only the medications that have been prescribed to you.

Other Self Care Procedures After a Laminectomy

Follow your doctor's advice, but here are some basic recommendations:

  • Avoid tasks that put stress on the spine
  • Don't wear high-heeled shoes
  • A firm mattress is recommended for sleeping
  • Your physical therapist and physician will advise you on what tasks you may and may not perform, such as driving or walking
  • Notify your doctor if you notice any symptoms of infection symptoms such as:
  • Bleeding, inflammation, redness, or abnormal discharge from the region of the incision
  • Fever
  • Pain surrounding the incision area has gotten worse
  • Feelings of numbness in the back, legs, or backside
  • You're having problems urinating or losing control of your bowels or bladder

Do not drive unless your healthcare physician gives you the all-clear. When picking up objects, avoid bending over or arching your back. The healthcare provider may advise you to reduce other additional activities. Your medical practitioner could offer you other directives after the surgery, based on your specific situation.

Steps to Take Next

Before you consent to the examination or surgery, ensure you are aware of the following:

  • The test or procedure's name
  • The reason you're taking the procedure or test
  • What to expect from the results and also what they represent
  • The procedure or test's risks and advantages
  • What are the potential complications or adverse effects?
  • Where and when will the test or operation be performed?
  • Who will conduct the examination or procedure, and also what are their certifications?
  • What would occur if the procedure or tests were not available?
  • Are there any other procedures or tests to consider?
  • When will you obtain the results, and also how will you receive them?
  • If you do have any questions or concerns after the procedure, who should you contact?
  • What will the cost of the tests or procedure be?

How Long Does It Take to Recover From a Lumbar Laminectomy Surgery?

Every patient heals at their own pace. However, returning to one's previous state of mobility or efficiency takes about 4–6 weeks on average. This, nonetheless, will be determined by the seriousness of the illness as well as symptoms before surgery.

It could take approximately six weeks for the overall pain and exhaustion associated with surgery to subside fully. After the procedure, most patients will feel comfortable driving in 2–3 weeks. After 4–6 weeks, most patients are ready to continue working. When a person's employment requires lots of driving, carrying heavy objects, or other intensive tasks, they might have to take time off for approximately 12 weeks.

The laminectomy surgery may not always be successful, and the initial symptoms may reappear. On other occasions, the procedure is done to stop the region from additional deterioration, rather than to ease symptoms. In this situation, your initial symptoms will most likely persist but won't worsen. Ensure you talk to your doctor about your fears and expectations.

Find a Laminectomy Specialist Near Me

At the LAMIS Institute, we specialize in the evaluation and treatment of back and neck pain in the City of Los Angeles. Our spine experts provide an expansive range of treatments to help patients with chronic back and neck issues. Following an extensive examination and consultation, we will assist you in determining the best method for your specific situation and ensure that your recovery time is significantly reduced so that you can get back to performing your favorite activities as soon as possible. Contact us today at 310-734-6088.

The 4 Pillars of Treating Chronic Spinal Pain

George Rappard MD discusses the 4 key pillars of spine care. The 4 pillars are physical therapy and chiropractic care tailored to your condition, appropriate selection of medical therapy, pain injections targeting your specific pain source and, as a last result, minimally invasive motion and stability preserving spinal surgery performed as an outpatient procedure. Through effective use of the first 3 pillars only about 5% of our patients need to go on to have back surgery or neck surgery.

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