Benefits of Laminectomy Surgery

Back pain is an extremely common problem that affects most Americans at some point during their lifetime. While many cases are isolated, a large number of patients suffer from recurrent or ongoing back pain that moderately or severely inhibits their day-to-day life.

If you are unfortunate enough to suffer from the latter, then you may have already tried a range of different therapies to help alleviate your discomfort. Pain medications, anti-inflammatory drugs, heat/ice therapy and manual manipulation are all common, conventional methods of treating back pain. However, if these fail to make a considerable difference to your quality of life, your doctor or orthopedic surgeon may recommend that you consider a laminectomy.

What is a laminectomy?

A laminectomy is one of the most common types of back surgery. It is also known as decompression surgery, as its aim is to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and surrounding nerves. It can be performed at any point along the back, from the cervical spine (located in the neck) to the bottom of the lumbar.

During a laminectomy, we will remove the rear part of one or more vertebrae in the area where the patient is experiencing pain. If there are bone spurs or ligaments pressing on the soft tissue around the spine, these too may be removed.

A general anesthetic is required for a lumbar laminectomy procedure, and the entire procedure is likely to take between four and six hours.

What can a laminectomy be used to treat?

A laminectomy is surgery that can address a range of different problems associated with back pain. These include:

  • A herniated disc. Also known as a slipped or bulging disc, this is where the inner gel escapes through the tougher, outer wall of the intervertebral disc, placing pressure on the spinal cord and surrounding nerves.

  • Degenerative disc disease. As we get older, regular wear and tear begins to affect the quality of the intervertebral discs, causing them to lose their ability to absorb impacts. Sometimes this causes compression that affects the spinal cord and nerves.
  • Spondylolisthesis. This is a fairly common condition during which one of the vertebrae in your spine slips over the bone below it. This misalignment can reduce the amount of space around the spinal cord and cause the nerves to become squashed.
  • Sciatica. A condition caused by pressure on the nerve roots at the base of the spine.
  • Spinal stenosis. Our spinal canal, which houses our spinal cord, also narrows as we get older. When this happens, it can cause the spinal cord and nerves around it to be condensed.

Benefits of laminectomy surgery

By far the biggest benefit of laminectomy surgery is that it removes the pressure compressing the spinal cord and nerves and in doing so, most patients find that they are relieved of the pain and discomfort that they experience.

Although exact recovery times vary, most patients find that they have some reduction in pain almost immediately following surgery. After the full recovery period, you can expect benefits that include:

  • Improved mobility
  • Reduction in tingling and pain that may be felt in the buttocks and legs
  • An almost total reduction in your back pain
  • An overall better quality of life

You should be able to resume normal day-to-day activity and enjoy a range of low-impact, physical pursuits such as walking and swimming.

A laminectomy is just one of the surgical procedures that we can offer to help with back pain. If you would like to learn more about the benefits of laminectomy surgery, or if you are suffering from back pain and would like our knowledgeable and experienced orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Rovner, to assess your condition, please do not hesitate to telephone our offices today at 516-289-9300.