Lumbar spine decompression

Being told that you need to have spine surgery may be very scary. However, we hope that this will help to calm your nerves as we walk you through all you need to know about lumbar spine surgery.

Lumbar spine surgery is recommended for patients who are suffering with chronic spinal stenosis, sciatica or a slipped disc, spinal fracture, spinal injury or even cancer that is pushing on the spinal cord. These conditions can lead to symptoms such as:

  • Weakness

  • Numbness

  • Pain in the legs and arms

  • Difficulty complete normal daily activates such as walking

If you have tried conservative methods of treatment (for example physiotherapy or medication), and they have not been successful, then you may be put forward for a lumbar spine decompression as this can help to resolve the issue.

The aim of a lumbar spine decompression is to free up a compressed nerve. This is done through an incision in the lumbar (lower) spine, under x-ray guidance and the tissue that is leading to the additional pressure will then be removed. Once the surgeon is happy that the nerve has been decompressed (pressure released), the muscles will be stitched back in place and the incision mark closed. Surgery differs with each patient, but you will be informed if you need any of the following at the same time:

  • Laminectomy – Removal of the entire lamina that is putting pressure on the spinal cord.

  • Laminotomy – Part removal of lamina to relieve pressure on the spinal cord.

  • Foraminotomy – removal of the bone that is around the neural foramen.

  • Laminaplasty – Performed in the neck, the laminae is cut to create more space in the spinal cord.

  • Discectomy – Removing a bulging or slipped disc to release pressure of the spinal nerves.

After surgery, you will be placed on a ward, so that you can be observed to ensure that the surgery has gone well and that there has been no complications. You may also need to have an MRI or X-ray before you return home to double check things. A physiotherapist will visit you before you are discharged. A follow up appointment will be made for around 6-8 weeks after the surgery, which is done to ensure that you are making a full recovery.

This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.


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