Treatment for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Symptoms > Decompressive Surgery for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
The most common type of surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis is decompressive laminectomy (also known as open decompression). It’s especially helpful at relieving leg pain caused by lumbar spinal stenosis, but less successful in relieving pain that’s primarily in the back.1
Decompressive lumbar laminectomy removes vertebral bone and ligaments that are compressing the spinal cord or nerve root. Removing this bone and tissue opens up the area and gives the nerve roots more space.
Decompressive lumbar laminectomy is generally done when symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis become severe. The surgery involves several steps:
At some hospitals or surgery centers a laminectomy can be done as a less invasive surgery. In some cases only part of the lamina must be removed to relieve the pressure on the nerves. This procedure is called a laminotomy.
After the surgery you may be up after one day and remain in the hospital for up to three days.2 You may need to take pain medications for two to four weeks. For about six weeks, your doctor will restrict certain activities like significant bending, twisting, and lifting so that you can fully recover.
Patients who have had a laminectomy typically require 6 months to recover before they can perform physical activities without limitations.2
The majority of people feel pain relief as a result of having a laminectomy. But symptoms can recur.
Below are the results of one study:
Potential risks and complications from decompressive laminectomy include the following:
Medication or additional surgery may be necessary to correct some of these potential adverse events.
Facetectomy and foraminotomy are two other types of decompressive surgery used to treat the symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis. They are similar to a laminectomy.
Facetectomy—Involves removal of the facet joints. The facet joints are the small stabilizing joints found in pairs at the back of each vertebra that link the vertebrae together. The facet joints can become inflamed due to injury or arthritis, and this can cause lumbar spinal stenosis and nerve root compression.
Foraminotomy—Widens the foramen in the spine. Forama are the small spaces in the vertebrae where nerve roots exit the spinal cord. When a nerve is compressed in this area, a foraminotomy can relieve the compression.
During a foraminotomy some bone is cut or shaved away from the foramen, enlarging the space. Other small pieces of bone or bone spurs may be removed if needed. If herniated disc tissue is also crowding the nerve root, the tissue (but not the entire disc) is removed.
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