Your spine has 33 vertebral bones that go from your hips to your neck. Within these bones is a spinal canal, which contains your spinal cord. Your spinal cord is a bundle of nerves, and many types of back pain, from bone spurs to herniated discs, originate when the vertebral bones pinch the spinal cord.
When nerves are squeezed or pinched in the spine, you might experience back pain or radiating pain elsewhere in your body. There are a number of treatments out there for chronic back pain, but when conservative treatments fail, it may be time to consider a laminectomy.
Jose E. Rodriguez-Cordova, MD, FACS, and our team at Orthopaedic Institute For Spinal Disorders in Houston are experts in treating back pain, including performing laminectomies.
How a laminectomy can relieve back pain
The purpose of a laminectomy is to relieve pressure on your spinal cord by giving it more room in your spinal canal. Your spinal canal is a channel within your vertebrae. If there’s a problem with one of your vertebrae, such as bone spurs or arthritis, it can crowd the spinal canal and pinch the spinal cord within it.
A laminectomy removes a portion of the problematic vertebra, thereby opening up space in the spinal canal. During this surgical procedure, the back of the affected vertebra ― called the lamina ― is removed, thus opening space in the spinal canal and relieving pressure on the spinal cord.
A laminectomy is sometimes called a decompression surgery, because it treats spinal cord compression by making your spinal canal bigger. When the spinal cord is no longer pinched, you can expect relief from back pain, muscle weakness, and numbness.
When to consider a laminectomy
A laminectomy can help patients who have various spinal conditions, such as:
- Bone spurs
- Herniated discs
A laminectomy is a surgical procedure, and while it’s generally safe and effective, it comes with some risks. That’s why we generally recommend conservative treatment first. For many patients, medication, physical therapy, and other noninvasive treatments are enough to manage back pain.
But everyone’s pain is unique, and conserative measures aren’t always enough to relieve chronic back and nerve pain caused by pressure in the spinal canal. When that’s the case, a laminectomy can be effective.
Common signs that a laminectomy could be right for you include:
- Sudden increase in the severity of your back pain
- Muscle weakness or numbness that affects your mobility
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Back pain that doesn’t respond to conservative treatments
What kind of laminectomy is right for me?
At Orthopaedic Institute For Spinal Disorders, we offer both open and minimally invasive laminectomies. Dr. Rodriguez-Cordova will determine what type of surgery is right for you based on your medical history and symptoms.
Both types of laminectomies utilize general anesthesia, so you’ll be asleep during your procedure. Our team will make small incisions on your spine and use specialized instruments to remove the lamina of the affected vertebra.
Many patients can go home the same day of surgery. You can expect to return to work with modifications within a few weeks.
To see if a laminectomy may be able to help you, book an appointment online or over the phone with Orthopaedic Institute For Spinal Disorders today.