Can a Laminectomy relieve my neck or back pain?

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Can a Laminectomy relieve my neck or back pain?

Laminectomy: Overview, Advantages, & Eligibility Criteria

A minimally invasive laminectomy is a sophisticated and effective treatment to remedy the narrowing of the spinal canal. The spinal canal, which travels through the center of our vertebrae, is a crucial channel that houses the spinal cord and spinal root nerves. The laminae, which encase the spinal cord and its accompanying nerves, are 2 thin bones on the backside of this canal. Unfortunately, these passageways have a tendency to narrow as we age, resulting in the pinching of these nerves. By removing part of or all of the lamina during a laminectomy, your surgeon can release pressure on these structures. In effect, this process relieves the painful symptoms that we associate with nerve compression or “impingement.”

During a laminectomy, your surgeon will make a small incision on the back, adjacent to the affected vertebrae. The number and size of the incisions will depend upon the number of laminae that your surgeon will operate on during the procedure. Your surgeon will then move muscles and ligaments carefully to the side, providing a clear view of the targeted laminae. Next, your doctor will remove the lamina through the use of specialized instruments and drills, leaving space for the compressed nerves to expand.

After removing the lamina, your surgeon may perform additional procedures to ensure nerve decompression. (Surgeons normally perform these procedures in this order because a laminectomy opens up the backside of the vertebrae. Furthermore, doing so allows your surgeon to access many spaces in the spine simultaneously.) Some of the other procedures that are often combined with a laminectomy include: foraminotomies, discectomies, and spinal fusions (ALIF, PLIF, & TLIF, for example). The specifics of your procedure, however, will depend entirely upon your individual situation and medical needs.

Advantages of a Laminectomy

A  laminectomy provides both the surgeon and the patient with multiple advantages for the treatment of nerve compression. Some of these benefits include:

  • Smaller incisions result in less blood loss and less postoperative pain or scarring
  • This minimally invasive option allows for easier access to perform other procedures
  • Performed as an outpatient procedure, allowing you to return home the same day as surgery
  • Less damage to nearby tissues, muscles, and ligaments because of advanced entry techniques
  • Shorter recovery times because of this minimally invasive approach and less tissue destruction

Dr. Jason E. Lowenstein, MD, specializes in treating the painful narrowing of the spinal canal caused by spinal stenosis. He is well-versed in endoscopic techniques and has received multiple awards for his expertise in adult and pediatric spine surgery. If you are suffering from spinal or foraminal stenosis, you can trust Dr. Lowenstein and his experienced team at the Advanced Spine Center of New Jersey to help you find relief.

Eligibility Requirements for a Laminectomy

If you have been suffering from the painful symptoms of spinal stenosis, a laminectomy may be able to help you. By removing the laminae of the vertebrae, your surgeon can alleviate symptoms such as excruciating localized pain, radiating pain down the legs or arms, and numbness or tingling.

There are certain situations that may restrict an individual from receiving a laminectomy, however. If you have infection of the spine, severe instability in a spinal segment, or if you are diagnosed with a severe medical condition, then a laminectomy may not be the right option for you.

It is always important to have a full assessment and diagnosis performed by a qualified physician and to attempt more conservative treatment options before choosing surgery. If noninvasive treatments such as physical therapy and pain management were not adequate to relieve your pain, then it may be time to evaluate your surgical options.

Conditions Treated

Spinal Stenosis As we age, our spine degenerates and loses its flexibility. During this process, the spinal canal may narrow, compressing spinal nerves and generating pain. When spinal stenosis occurs, a laminectomy is the gold standard for symptom relief and nerve decompression.
Sciatica Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve of the lumbar spine is pinched, producing symptoms of searing pain that shoot down through the back side of either leg. To eliminate sciatica, or radicular pain, your doctor may recommend a minimally invasive laminectomy.
Bulging or Herniated Discs When a spinal disc becomes injured from an accident, chronic use, aging, or disease, it can bulge outward or leak, pressing on adjacent nerves that fire pain signals. A laminectomy can provide access to remove herniated disc material and to restore nerve function.
Spinal Injury Spinal injuries are a common cause of nerve compression. Damaged vertebrae or scar tissue can compress the spinal cord or its system of nerves, causing excruciating pain. A laminectomy may be performed to reverse these uncomfortable symptoms.
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