As someone with spinal stenosis, you’ve probably started doing research on treatment options. One concern you might develop is: Is a laminectomy a major surgery?
The truth is, this surgery option is minimally invasive and, at most, might require a short hospital stay. Laminectomy offers you relief from the pain and neurological conditions that result from spinal stenosis. But should it be your first option?
What is a Laminectomy?
Just what is a laminectomy anyway? This is usually a last resort at Desert Spine and Scoliosis Center, as Dr. Baig believes in performing the least-invasive therapy first. But, for some folks, it might be the only option.
A laminectomy is a type of spinal decompression surgery in which the lamina (the back part of the vertebrae in your spine) is surgically removed. This is done in order to create more space in the spinal canal.
Patients can get either a bilateral laminectomy or a unilateral laminectomy, depending on what Dr. Baig thinks will be best. A bilateral laminectomy involves removing both sides of the lamina on the affected vertebra. This can be done with or without removing adjacent tissue and bone and/or widening the intervertebral foramina. A unilateral laminectomy involves removing just one side of the affected vertebra with or without the surrounding tissues.
Who Should Get a Laminectomy?
Osteoarthritis is something that most of us encounter as we get older. It can cause bone spurs along the spine, leading to a narrowing of the spinal canal. These bone spurs can cause pain and even neurological conditions. This typically occurs in the lumbar (lower) spine.
Many patients can manage spinal stenosis without surgery, but some cannot. Dr. Baig might recommend laminectomy if you aren’t responding well to medication or physical therapy, if nerve compression starts causing problems with bladder or bowel control, if muscle weakness or numbness in the legs is stopping you from being able to walk, or if the lamina already needs to be removed for a herniated disc.
The Laminectomy Procedure Itself
Laminectomy requires you to be placed under general anesthesia. Once you’re under, Dr. Baig will make a small incision just above the problematic vertebra. Surrounding muscles will get moved aside in order to get to the vertebra. Then, the lamina will be removed. Dr. Baig can perform either a traditional or minimally invasive laminectomy and can also perform a discectomy at the same time if you’re dealing with disc damage too.
After the Procedure
Laminectomy recovery is usually simple. Many patients are able to go home just a few hours after having the surgery performed. However, if you have other health conditions, you might need to make a brief hospital stay in order to optimize your recovery. People who have had lumbar laminectomy surgery can return to regular daily activities within a few weeks. Spinal decompression surgery recovery time involves keeping to simple activities during the first few weeks and likely needing to take time off work.
Post-surgery physical therapy can be extremely helpful for the recovery process and is something that Dr. Baig often recommends. It can help you deal with any pain after lumbar laminectomy and re-train you for using that part of your body.
Laminectomy Success Rate
Radiating pain reaching into the arms and legs is usually alleviated after laminectomy. If your osteoarthritis progresses, though, you might experience degeneration in other areas of your spine. Should this indeed happen, Dr. Baig would be happy to consult with you on further treatment options in order to help alleviate your pain.
On the whole, laminectomy is effective. A large majority of lumbar central spinal stenosis patients have found relief from leg pain, and post-operatively, these patients experience satisfactory outcomes for about a decade. Laminectomy can be so beneficial in reclaiming your life from the pain of spinal stenosis.
Book a consultation with us now to learn if a laminectomy is right for you. We are here to help you learn about and alleviate your pain. You can reclaim your vitality from the pain of spinal stenosis with the compassionate help you will get from our spine specialist experts.