What is lumbar laminectomy?

A lumbar laminectomy is a type of surgery doctors do on your lower back. The lamina is a curved part of your back bones, and it covers your spinal canal.

If your spinal canal becomes too narrow, you might experience the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty walking or standing
  • A diagnosis of lumbar spinal stenosis
  • Pain, tingling, weakness or numbness in your legs and feet

Doctors perform this surgery if your spinal cord or the nerves in your lower back are compressed due to bony growths in your back bones. This surgery creates extra space and relieves pressure. The procedure is also known as surgical decompression.

What to expect from lumbar laminectomy

Doctors perform this surgery while you are completely asleep. They clean and disinfect the skin on your lower back before making an incision. The doctor finds the affected area of your spine and removes the lamina. If you suffer from a herniated disc, then the doctor removes this at the same time.

After surgery, you stay in the hospital for several days. Your healthcare team monitors your condition. They make sure you're on the right track for recovery. Once you head home, you can expect to be in recovery for at least four to six weeks.

During recovery, avoid heavy lifting, yard work and other similar activities. You should also avoid sitting for long periods of time. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy. It can strengthen your back muscles and improve your range of motion.

Many patients say that their symptoms improve after a lumbar laminectomy, especially leg pain due to compacted nerves.

Common conditions requiring lumbar laminectomy

The most common reason you might need a lumbar laminectomy is due to lumbar spinal stenosis. This is the narrowing of your spinal canal, which is the space that your spinal cord runs through. This narrowing leads to a pinched nerve or spinal cord.

Sometimes, doctors may do this surgery in adults or children to remove tumors or other masses from their spinal cords.

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