If your back pain is getting progressively worse, and it isn't responding well to physical therapy or pain medications, your doctor may recommend surgery. One type of surgery that may help your back pain and pain that radiates down your leg is a laminectomy. During this procedure, the back surgeon removes part of bones in the affected area of your back to relieve pressure on the nerve and reduce pain. Here are a few things to know about having a laminectomy.
Hospital Stay Is Usually Required
You'll probably have the laminectomy done in a hospital where you'll stay at least overnight to recover. Your doctor will take into account your general health and the nature of your surgery to determine if general anesthesia or spinal anesthesia is the right choice. If you have spinal anesthesia, you'll be awake, but you won't feel any pain at all during the procedure.
During the operation, the surgeon makes an incision in your back over the spine. A portion of a vertebrae or disc is removed. If you have bone spurs or some other tissue or growth that is irritating the nerve in your spine, those are removed as well. If a large part of the bone is taken out, you may also need to have a spinal fusion at the same time. This fuses two of your vertebrae together to provide stability to your spine.
After the surgery, you'll have a recovery period where you are monitored by nurses while the anesthesia wears off. You'll probably be in pain after the surgery and need pain medications for a few days. You'll begin physical therapy while in the hospital so you can learn how to walk and get out of bed without stressing your spine.
Recovering From A Laminectomy
You'll probably still have stitches when you're released from the hospital. You may be instructed not to shower so the incision stays dry. You should monitor the incision for signs of infection and notify your doctor if it becomes red, inflamed, or develops drainage. Your doctor should be able to estimate in advance how long you'll need to take off from work. If you have a sedentary desk job, you'll be able to return to work much sooner than if your job involves physical labor.
You'll be restricted on activities such as driving, heavy lifting, and strenuous exercise until your back heals. Your physical therapist will teach you how to support your spine with your abdominal muscles so you can dress and move around without placing stress on your back. You should bend at the hips and avoid bending at the waist or arching your back. It will help to arrange your home in advance so everything you need is within reach, so you don't need to bend down to pick up food or clothing. Slippers are a good choice in shoes since you can put them on while standing.
The pain from the operation should only last for a few days, and it will become less each day as your back heals. You should notice a reduction in back and leg pain right away after surgery because removing the bone stops nerve irritation. However, if your back pain is caused by a progressive condition, such as arthritis, the pain may eventually come back as your spine continues to undergo arthritic changes. Contact a company like Southwest Florida Neurosurgical Associates for more information.