Lumbar Laminectomy Surgery (PLD)
Below are some of the most common questions we receive from patients who are considering proceeding with a lumbar laminectomy surgery. Please keep in mind that the recovery from surgery is quite subjective and affected by various factors such as patient age, comorbid illnesses, the degree of the spinal cord or nerve impingement, the length of illness prior to surgery as well as the degree of disability prior to surgery to name a few. The answers below are responses to questions we receive from the average patient.
Lumbar Laminectomy Surgery
While a patient is under general anesthesia, a laminectomy is performed to the affected area of the back. After making an incision, muscles and ligaments are retracted in order to gain access to the spine. An x-ray device used during surgery helps visualize the structures of the vertebrae and accurately locate the problem.
Based on the extent of damage, the lamina may need either partial or full removal on both sides of the spine. Removing the lamina and other debris alleviates the spinal cord and nerve compression and symptoms improve. The procedure itself lasts from 1 to 3 hours on average.
Is The Surgery Very Painful?
Please keep in mind that pain is a very subjective experience and one’s reaction to surgery is affected by a variety of factors as mentioned above. It is not uncommon for a patient to experience “reminder” symptoms after surgery. These symptoms can often feel similar to the patient’s preoperative symptoms but not as intense. This is very common as patients recover however if you are concerned please call the office to discuss your symptoms and concerns.
Lumbar Laminectomy Recovery
The first visit is approximately 2-weeks after surgery however if you have any questions or concerns please call the office. If we think we should see you in the office we will schedule an earlier appointment. Patients will require a formalized outpatient physical therapy program after a laminectomy procedure.
Most patients do not have sutures that require removal. There are internal sutures that will dissolve with time. There will also be steri-strips (white pieces of tape) over the incision that will either fall off or we will remove them from the office.
For the first 2 weeks, your activity is limited to walking. We encourage you to walk as much as you are comfortable. During this time you may go up and down stairs, with the use of a railing, and you may also sleep in a normal bed. You will have a 5 pound lifting limit for the first 2 weeks. After two weeks you will be able to resume low-impact cardiovascular activities and increase the amount of weight you are lifting. Within a reasonable amount of time after surgery, you will have very few restrictions on your activities. Please be sure to discuss any specific questions with us in the office.
Since a laminectomy is a spinal procedure, it carries some risks. Some complications may include blood clot formation, postsurgical infection, nerve damage, breathing problems, or adverse reactions to medication/anesthesia. Despite the risks, the great majority of laminectomy surgeries are successful and uneventful.
What to Avoid Before Or After Surgery?
We ask that you refrain from taking any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines 10 days before your surgery such as:
- Aspirin, Advil, & Aleve
- Herbal Supplements
- Vitamins E & K
- Fish Oil
If you have a physician who recommends that you do not stop Aspirin prior to surgery please be sure to discuss this with our office.
- How long will I be out of work?
The average length of time out of work after a laminectomy surgery is between 1-4 weeks. Patients who perform labor intensive jobs are more likely to be out of work closer to 4 weeks.
- When will I be able to drive?
Most patients are able to begin driving, short distances, between 1-2 weeks after surgery. You may be a passenger in a car as soon as you feel up to it. We do advise that you refrain from driving while you are taking narcotic pain medication.