Back and Neck Pain Treatment: Laminectomy
A laminectomy describes a procedure that we use for neck and back pain treatment by creating more space for the spinal cord or the nerve roots, depending on where you are in the spine itself. In the spinal cord and in the lumbar spine, the nerve roots travel in a tube. As people age and degenerative conditions start to take over, they can become stenotic or that tube can tighten up. A laminectomy aims to open up that tube in the areas in which it’s become stenotic for lower back pain relief.
The conditions treated with a laminectomy are those conditions associated with narrowing either of the spinal cord (which would cause myelopathy) or the problems with balance and coordination. Or, if it’s down lower in the spine, it can affect nerve roots, which can cause radicular-type symptoms into the legs.
The advantage of having a laminectomy if performed alone is that it’s a relatively well tolerated spine surgery. Patients spend one or two days in the hospital. Recovery is four to six weeks before we release them to normal activity as tolerated. However, sometimes a laminectomy must be combined with a fusion if the spine shows evidence of instability. Cases of laminectomy with a fusion require a much prolonged post-operative course.
Recovery following a laminectomy alone is fairly rapid. One to two days in the hospital, and I’ll allow physical therapy starting at four to six weeks with activity as tolerated at that point.
A laminectomy in many instances is an elective procedure unless you have motor weakness or balance and gait coordination issues present, but it’s a very well tolerated spine surgery and can result in rapid improvement and quality of life.