A Patient’s Guide to Lumbar Laminectomy

 In back pain

A lumbar laminectomy is a surgery that involves removing a portion of the lamina, the back part of a vertebra that surrounds the spinal canal, to relieve pressure on pinched nerves. The compression of nerve roots may arise due to a combination of factors, such as bony overgrowths, bone spurs, disc herniation, and thickening of the ligaments within the spinal column. These conditions cause lumbar spinal stenosis. Spine specialists will typically recommend lumbar laminectomies when:

  • Non-surgical treatments, such as physical therapy, medication, or steroid injections, do not provide sustained pain relief.
  • Symptoms including leg fatigue, problems walking distances, needing to lean over a shopping cart when walking. Stenosis can also cause pain, weakness, numbness, and/or tingling in the buttock, legs, and feet.
  • Patients keep experience muscle weakness that makes standing and walking difficult.
  • Although rare, symptoms such as loss of bowel/bladder control appear.

Contact the board-certified surgeons at New Jersey Spine Specialists today to learn if a lumbar laminectomy is an appropriate choice for you. They will administer a comprehensive consultation and will help you address your unique situation.

Is Lumbar Laminectomy a Major Surgery?

Lumbar laminectomy is a surgery conducted under general anesthesia. By utilizing the most current surgical and pain management techniques, minimally invasive surgery now yields shorter hospital stays, rapid recovery, and less pain. Generally, the procedure consists of the following steps:

  • The surgeon makes an incision in your back over the affected area. Then, surgeons move the muscles and soft tissues surrounding the spine to expose the spine.
  • The surgeon will utilize small instruments to remove the appropriate lamina, and any bone, bone spurs, and ligaments compressing against the nerve.
  • Some patients may need to undergo a spinal fusion in addition to laminectomy. This may become necessary when one vertebra slips or when the spine curves significantly. A spinal fusion helps stabilize the bones in the lower back. The surgeon would connect two or more vertebrae using bone grafts and/or metal screws and rods.

How Long Does It Take to Fully Recover from a Laminectomy?

After a lumbar laminectomy, a short hospital stay may be necessary; however, it is possible in certain patients that they can return home even on the same day as the procedure. Depending on the extent of the surgery and if a spinal fusion was also necessary, patients may need help getting around the house for a few days following the procedure. At NJSS, we utilize plastic surgery closing techniques to improve the appearance of the incision and scar. As a result, our team can avoid suture or staple removal after surgery.

Ultimately, full recovery from lumbar laminectomy surgery can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. If also undergoing spinal fusion, your recovery time will take longer. Depending on the procedure, patients may need to avoid strenuous activities involving bending, stooping, or heavy lifting for two to three months. During a patient’s recovery time, their doctor may recommend physical therapy and light exercise, such as walking, to improve the strength and flexibility of the muscles in the surrounding area.

How Painful is a Lumbar Laminectomy?

A lumbar laminectomy may cause pain, but the use of advanced local anesthesia around the surgical site can help mitigate discomfort. Patients can expect to feel some pain, stiffness, and soreness after their surgery. Following a patient’s procedure, their surgeon will prescribe medications to relieve pain in the back or at the incision site.

What is the Success Rate of Lumbar Laminectomy?

Lumbar laminectomies are generally safe and quite common. This minimally invasive surgery offers a significant improvement for painful and neurological symptoms. However, some patients may not know their full recovery until at least six weeks after the procedure. Some nerve symptoms can take months to fully improve. Lumbar laminectomy is generally successful at alleviating leg pain due to spinal stenosis. More importantly, the relief from intense pain can last many years.

Schedule a Lumbar Laminectomy at NJSS

New Jersey Spine Specialists offers advanced spinal care with the latest techniques, tailored to the needs of each unique patient. Our award-winning team of spine surgeons has an extensive history of performing lumbar laminectomy procedures and can give you a complete consultation and treatment plan. To schedule an appointment with our physicians in either our Summit or Montclair offices, call (908) 608-9619 today.

* Spine Health: https://www.spine-health.com/treatment/back-surgery/surgical-procedure-lumbar-laminectomy-open-decompression-spinal-stenosis
* Spine University: https://www.spineuniverse.com/treatments/surgery/lumbar/lumbar-laminectomy

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