Spinal stenosis is a condition that mostly affects the lower back and neck, wherein there is a narrowing in the open spaces within the spinal canal. As the spaces in the spinal canal shrinks, it can cause pinching in the nearby nerves and you may experience debilitating symptoms in the lower back and legs. The disorder results due to a number of factors such as age-related osteoarthritis, thickened ligaments, and enlarged joints. Spinal decompression is a spinal stenosis surgery technique wherein the surgeon removes the bony roof of the spinal canal to create more space and pacify the symptoms. Physicians who participate in the Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic Center referral line treat various types of spinal conditions including spinal stenosis. The blog post discusses the various aspects of spinal decompression surgery, and also focuses on what to expect post-surgery.
Spinal decompression surgery is classified into four types:
The procedure entirely removes the bony lamina, thickened ligaments, and a significant portion of the facet joints to create more space within the spinal canal, thereby relieving pressure on the spinal cord and nearby nerves.
Unlike laminectomy, laminotomy involves only the partial removal of the lamina to alleviate pressure on the spinal cord and surrounding nerves and mitigate the debilitating symptoms.
Related Read : Spinal Stenosis – What It Is and How It’s Treated
The technique can be combined with laminectomy and laminotomy and is preferred when disc degeneration pinches the nerves around the spinal canal, resulting in debilitating pain and discomfort.
The procedure targets only the cervical area, wherein the laminae are cut on one side to expand the spinal canal and ease multiple symptoms of spinal stenosis.
You may be a suitable candidate for spinal decompression surgery if:
- You experience debilitating pain, weakness, or numbness in any region of your leg or foot
- You start to experience leg pain that is worse than back pain
- Your physical condition isn’t improving after regular therapy or medication
- You have problems standing and walking, which results in the deterioration of your quality of life
- Diagnostic tests confirm spinal stenosis to be affecting the central spinal canal
Spinal decompression surgery has a high success rate as patients can expect visible improvement in the symptoms within 3 months of surgery. Patients can slowly but steadily get back on their feet and comfortably perform regular activities with minimal pain and discomfort. Symptoms continue to recede and can last for 8 to 10 years if a patient follows postoperative instructions. After undergoing spinal decompression, it’s quite essential to understand that the spine can no longer withstand pressure as before. That said, you need to refrain from activities that may exert pressure on it and continue physical therapy and prescribed exercises.
Post Operative Instructions
Most patients can go home within 2 days of surgery; however, it is important to keep a strict check on your activities and movements. Painkillers and narcotic medications are prescribed to relieve postoperative pain for a limited period only, which is generally two to four weeks. Some medications can cause constipation, and to regulate your bowel movements, drink plenty of fluids including water and high-fiber juices.
Surgical repair of the spine or spinal stenosis surgery is an option when non-surgical methods fail to bring significant improvements and symptoms start getting worse. Spinal stenosis surgery minimizes the debilitating symptoms of spinal stenosis, improving patients’ quality of life. The average hospital stay can be anywhere between 1 to 3 days, and the typical recovery period is runs from 4 to 6 weeks. Avoid lifting heavy weights and limit physical activity until you get a green signal from your spinal doctor. After you feel comfortable getting back on your feet, start with short walks and continue physical therapy. If you or someone you know is struggling with the symptoms of spinal stenosis, call the Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic Center to book an appointment for spinal stenosis treatment. You can also fill out our contact form here.
Physicians who are members of the referral program practice independently and are not employees or agents of Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic Center.