Back pain is a common ailment for most people. Whether it’s pain from an aching arthritic joint or the occasional flare-up from “overdoing it”, back pain typically comes and goes. There is a type of back pain, however, caused by a narrowing of the spaces within your spine, that’s persistent. Spinal pain caused by pressure on the nerves can be both unnerving and debilitating. Left undiagnosed and untreated, it can lead to problems that interfere with normal daily activities. Laminectomy surgery may be needed to obtain relief. For the best possible care and treatment, the place to start is Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Nerve pain can get worse and worse.
A laminectomy is one of the most common back surgeries. Also called open decompression, a lumbar laminectomy is a surgical procedure performed to enlarge the spinal canal and treat the symptoms of narrowing of the spine to provide more space for the compressed spinal cord and/or nerve roots. A lumbar laminectomy involves the removal of the lamina. The back portion of a spinal bone in the lower back.
WHAT IS LAMINA?
The lamina—described as bony arches—are bone pieces that stick out from the back portion of a spinal bone in the lower back. If one were to hole a single vertebra bone in the hand, the lamina would be the sides of the spiny part, resembling two sides of a triangle or arch. The lamina curves to a point and forms a bony protrusion called the spinous process providing the point of attachment for muscles and ligaments of the spine. The lamina is part of the vertebrae that covers and protects the spinal canal. A laminectomy is a surgery that usually involves removing a small piece of the lamina of the small bones of the spine.
WHAT CONDITIONS DOES A LAMINECTOMY TREAT?
While the overall goal of lumbar laminectomy aims to relieve pressure or narrowing in the spine, There are several conditions it is used to treat. These include bone spurs and tissue associated with arthritis of the spine. Bone spurs are bony projections that develop along bone edges. Bone spurs (osteophytes) often form where bones meet in your joints. They can also form on the bones of your spine. When arthritis affects the lower back, this is known as lumbar arthritis. Lumbar spine osteoarthritis is very common, affecting an estimated 30% of males and 28% of females aged 55-64. Another common reason for having a laminectomy is a herniated disk in the spine. A disk may be displaced or damaged because of injury, or wear and tear. A laminectomy will often include a fusion component if a patient has experienced slippage of the vertebrae or has a curvature of the spine.
In every case, when the spine begins to narrow and reduce space for the nerves, different symptoms will be experienced. The most common symptom of a herniated disc is sciatica. This is a sharp, shooting pain along the sciatic nerve, extending from the buttocks to the thigh and down the back of the leg. When the disc presses on the spinal nerves, it causes pain and sometimes numbness or weakness. Symptoms of lumbar bone spurs include pain in the lower back when walking or standing, muscle spasms, radiating pain down one or both legs, and a reduction in pain when bending forward from the waist. Symptoms of lumbar arthritis are lower back pain, and pain that may be worse after standing or sitting upright for prolonged periods. Bending sideways or backward can also cause pain. The pain can be in the center of the lower back but may expand to the pelvic area of the sides of the buttocks.
WHEN IS SURGERY INDICATED?
Lumbar laminectomies are typically reserved for people who have not responded to non-surgical medical treatments including physical therapy, muscle relaxants, opioids, back braces, epidural steroid injections, massage, and meditation as examples. A lumbar laminectomy might be recommended if muscle weakness, numbness, or tingling in the arms or legs make standing or walking difficult, or if there is a loss of bowel or bladder control.
TYPES OF LUMBAR LAMINECTOMY SURGERY
Because laminectomies are a common type of spine surgery, there are options in terms of where and how the procedure can be done. A lumbar laminectomy may be performed using a traditional open approach (larger incision). Alternatively, a patient may be a candidate for a minimally invasive laminectomy, also known as a micro-laminectomy. The surgery may be done in a hospital or at an outpatient orthopedic specialty center. Both minimally invasive and traditional open decompressive lumbar laminectomy procedures accomplish the same goals.
GETTING THE RIGHT DIAGNOSIS
Laminectomy surgery is a big decision and carries risks like any surgery. This is why you want the most experienced orthopedic surgeon, not just for their skill, but for the way they will answer all your questions, and explain the procedure in detail. After a comprehensive exam, spinal x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs may be ordered to aid in diagnosis. Pain is pain, but the source and degree of it are unique to each individual. At Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence in Colorado Springs, Colorado, you can count on getting the exact help you need to get back to your lifestyle, profession, and overall quality of life. Schedule an appointment with our spine specialist today.