Minimally Invasive Decompression

If you are suffering from back pain in the lumbar region of your spine, you are not alone. While this type of pain is typically associated with multiple factors, research has revealed that it can be caused by a common condition known as lumbar spinal stenosis. At LAMIS (Los Angeles Minimally Invasive Spine) Institute, advancements in pain management and physical medicine have helped make it easier for our neuro-interventional surgeon to treat chronic and acute low back pain, particularly for individuals suffering from lumbar spine surgery. Minimally invasive decompression is a viable treatment solution that can enhance results in carefully selected patients. This article gives a comprehensive overview of the procedure as well as an in-depth assessment of its efficacy and safety.

What Is Minimally Invasive Decompression?

Decompression involves a surgical operation that aids in the alleviation of pain resulting from neural impingement. A lumbar decompression operation involves taking out a small part of a spinal bone or a thicker ligament that is pressing on a spinal nerve, thus causing pain. The operation relieves nerve pressure by providing space, which allows the nerve to recover.

Minimally invasive decompression is often used to treat lumbar spinal stenosis, an anatomical alteration caused by osteoarthritis or aging. Due to this, physiotherapy is not always effective in providing long-term relief. Minimally invasive decompression usually comes into play only when nonsurgical alternatives such as physical therapy, epidural steroid injections, and medication don't alleviate the pain after eight to twelve weeks of therapy.

The surgical procedure requires a minor incision in the back and doesn't call for the use of staples or sutures. Furthermore, minimally invasive decompression requires no anesthesia, which reduces the recovery period. In most situations, patients can get back to their regular duties within twenty-four hours. The operation not only helps reduce pain but also boosts patient mobility.

Conditions Treated with Minimally Invasive Decompression

The anatomy of the spinal column changes with each injury to the neck or back. This explains why the discomfort you feel may feel terrible at times, limiting your mobility. Patients shouldn't take their mobility for granted, since some individuals who are experiencing chronic pain could find themselves unable to move at all on some days.

Minimally invasive decompression is generally used to treat spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal that presses the spinal nerves and results in sciatica or back pain. The spinal canal's bony growths reduce the amount of space the spinal cord and nerves have to move about. The resulting strain on the nerves and spinal cord can cause weakness, numbness, or pain in the legs. In severe situations, it could cause difficulty to walk or stand.

Low back pain affects both men and women. Although pain does not discriminate, there are several intensity levels, ranging from sudden to dull and chronic, that could be devastating and incapacitate an individual for a while. Minimally invasive decompression involves eliminating a small section of the vertebral bone or a thicker ligament to create space and relieve the strain on the spinal nerves.

Benefits of Using Minimally Invasive Decompression

Spinal surgery operations are characterized as either minimally invasive or open procedures. A minimally invasive surgical operation makes use of tiny skin incisions that facilitate the insertion of tiny, specialized equipment. An open treatment usually requires more anesthesia, larger incisions, hospitalization, and operating times, all of which add to the length of recovery time required.

Minimally invasive decompression is a low-risk technique with two key benefits. People who experience pain due to pressure on their spine's nerves can benefit from it. Since the operation is minimally invasive, a patient is likely to heal faster compared to open surgery.

Most individuals who have undergone the surgery report significant relief from leg pain. However, if you are suffering from an aggressive type of arthritis, the benefits could diminish over time.

Risks of Minimally Invasive Decompression

Most decompression procedures can often be done safely and without issues. However, there are dangers involved with both the anesthesia and the surgery, as with any type of surgery. 

Anesthesia Risks

Before surgery, your anesthetist will discuss with you the risks associated with using anesthesia. You should provide your physician with your precise age as well as any prior medical concerns, as this could affect the potential risk of anesthesia.

Possible risks include:

  • Infection of the lungs or blood clots.
  • Heart problems, such as arrhythmia or a heart attack.
  • Infection in the urinary tract.
  • Deep Venous Thrombosis.
  • Pressure ulcers.
  • Eye or vision issues.
  • Stroke.
  • Low risk of a life-threatening situation.

Risks of the Decompression Procedure

Before your operation, your doctor will go over the potential risks in greater detail. The following are some of them:

  • Lower back pain.
  • Damage to the nerves causes weakness, numbness, and pain in the legs.
  • Nerve damage that causes bladder or bowel issues.
  • Progressive lumbar spine deformities such as spondylolisthesis or kyphosis.
  • Need for fusion in the future.
  • Incomplete anterior pathological decompression (inability to reach the frontal side of the spine).
  • Recurrence of signs and symptoms.
  • Persistent symptoms.
  • Adjacent segment illness.

Post-Operative Care After Minimally Invasive Decompression Procedure

During admission, your doctor will go through any extra instructions that are relevant to you or your procedure. The following details are offered to help you recover from minimally invasive decompression surgery:

General Information

Spinal stenosis, or the narrowing of the spinal column as a result of age-related degeneration, is a surgical condition that requires minimally invasive decompression to treat. It is commonly used to treat symptoms like sciatica, needles and pins, difficulty walking, weakness, or numbness in the feet and legs.

It's difficult to estimate the degree of pain relief you'll have following lumbar decompression and how soon it will occur. After surgery, patients often experience instant improvement in their legs. Other times, symptoms could take months or weeks to improve.

Some individuals will experience numbness, weakness, or pain that doesn't go away and could be lasting. Usually, spinal stenosis-related long-term nerve compression is the cause of this. It's common to feel tingling and numbness in both feet and legs a couple of weeks after the operation. In most cases, this gets better over time. It is also important to notify your doctor if the leg pain has not improved after surgery.

Back pain is also common after lumbar decompression. This is a muscular and incisional pain that should improve over time as the wound heals and the muscles recover. Any persistent back pain you've had for a long time is not likely to get better. You should keep things calm for the first 4 to 6 weeks after the operation to allow the wound to heal and enhance your recovery.

While in Hospital

Patients often stay in the hospital for one to four days after a spinal decompression operation before being discharged. You are likely to stay in the hospital longer if several levels need to be addressed. Most individuals don't need inpatient rehabilitation after surgery. It's recommended that you have a close friend or family member take you home after being discharged. 

If you're living alone, are an elderly person, have had numerous levels treated, or have mobility issues, inpatient rehabilitation could be recommended. Before returning home, inpatient rehabilitation seeks to increase your mobility, safety, and strength. If you need rehabilitation, an ambulance can take you from the healthcare facility to the rehabilitation center.

To reduce your chances of getting infections, you typically receive antibiotics for 24 hours after the operation. Oral pain medicines are often effective in treating post-operative pain. If you feel the pain is out of control, you should seek more painkillers.

You'll be required to put on stockings to prevent hemorrhage or blood clots from forming in your legs. Your surgeon would also recommend the placement of calf compression devices until you're able to walk. Most individuals also get a prescription for a medication called Clexane to prevent the formation of blood clots.

Your doctor will examine you during your stay in the hospital after the procedure. Once you've been discharged from the hospital, you'll have to schedule appointments to follow up in around four weeks. A doctor will also come to see you so that they can handle your pain and any medical issues you might have.

Activity Guidelines

Most individuals can start moving around on the day of the procedure or soon after the operation. Unless otherwise instructed, you can get out of bed as soon as you recover from the anesthesia.

The physiotherapists and nurses will assist you in getting out of bed. After that, you'll be able to walk around the hospital's ward. You need to get out of bed and move around to avoid blood clots forming in your legs and to enhance your recovery.

  • Walking

It's crucial to have a daily walking routine. Walking is the most ideal kind of exercise after surgery. Strive to walk at least 5 times per day and gradually increase your daily distance. Begin with a short stroll and gradually increase the length of the distance every day. Individuals who walk frequently have far better long-term rehabilitation.

  • Running

You can avoid jogging or running until your doctor examines you for your post-operative checkup and permits you to resume more strenuous activities. Typically, jogging can begin within 6 weeks after surgery.

  • Rest

Resting is also vital for healing. You should have enough rest, especially during the first 2 weeks after surgery. It is preferable to rest when lying down.

  • Sitting

It's recommended that a patient limit his or her sitting, particularly when the procedure involves the removal of a herniated disc. To reduce the risk of recurring disc prolapse, sitting needs to be limited to 1 hour at a time.

During the first 4 weeks following surgery, it's advisable to lie down or stand for extended periods rather than sitting. If you're sitting for longer periods, it is crucial to take breaks. If you spend most of your day sitting at a workstation, try to get up and go for a stroll around the block once an hour.

  • Maintain Proper Posture At All Times

Maintain good posture by pulling the shoulders back and standing up straight. If you have to spend time behind a desk or computer, a sit-to-stand desk could be an ideal choice for you.

  • Lifting

Heavy lifting is not recommended during the first few weeks after surgery. For the first four weeks after surgery, you shouldn't carry anything heavier than five kilograms. Your doctor tends to increase your lifting limit at the four-week appointment.

  • Twisting And Bending

Even though you might need to bend over to put your socks and shoes on or carry out other necessary tasks, it is recommended to avoid manual labor, repetitive lifting, and unnecessary twisting and bending.

Taking Care of the Wound

Sutures are dissolvable and don't have to be removed unless otherwise instructed. It's crucial to keep your wounds dry for a week after surgery. Your wound will be covered with waterproof dressings. You can take a shower while the waterproof dressing is on. The waterproof dressing needs to be changed after taking a bath or when it gets soiled or dirty.

It's crucial not to wear any clothing that is restrictive, too tight, or rubs on the wound. Any signs of increasing swelling or wound pain, as well as heat, redness, discharge, wound breakdown, signs of infection, or fluid leakage, should be reported to your physician or your local doctor as soon as possible.

The wound can be exposed to water after 7 days have passed. Avoid scraping or rubbing the wound while taking a shower. After two weeks, you can swim and completely immerse your wound in water.

Find a Spine Surgeon Near Me

Many people experience anxiety before undergoing an operation, especially when it is necessary to treat conditions like herniated discs and spinal stenosis. While the idea of surgery can be terrifying, the procedure often leads to substantial pain relief and the restoration of normal function. At the LAMIS (Los Angeles Minimally Invasive Spine) Institute, we specialize in the assessment and treatment of spine problems. Our skilled Los Angeles spine surgeon provides comprehensive solutions, including spinal stenosis surgery, to address your specific needs. You can reach us anytime at 310-734-6088.

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