What should I expect during recovery from a laminectomy?

Laminectomy is used to reduce pressure on the spinal cord caused by spinal stenosis.

Recovery from a laminectomy can take up to 12 weeks, and the patient must follow a doctor’s healing plan to prevent the incision from opening or further straining the back. A laminectomy procedure usually requires a three-day hospital stay, where the person will be given pain medication to reduce swelling and inflammation, and will usually need to start walking 24 hours after the surgery. At the hospital, a medical professional will change the dressings over the incision and drain fluid from the wound if necessary. Once the person is able to hold solid food, get dressed, and change dressings, they can return home.

Lumbar laminectomy is one of the most invasive treatments for chronic low back pain and is rarely 100% effective.

Laminectomy is performed to relieve pressure on the spinal cord caused by spinal stenosis. This condition causes degeneration of the spinal cord, which begins to narrow and causes pinched nerves, pain, and numbness in various parts of the body. Lumbar laminectomy, also known as open decompression, is performed on the lower back. In a cervical laminectomy, the spine is accessed from the side of the neck and recovery time is usually shorter for this procedure.

A doctor may recommend physical therapy sessions after a laminectomy.

During a laminectomy, an incision will be made over the vertebrae where nerve compression is taking place. The muscles covering the vertebrae are moved to the side and then the bony plate and ligaments are removed to expose the nerve roots of the vertebrae. The doctor then removes tissue, bone spurs, or fragments to relieve the compression on the nerves. The surgeon may also widen the openings that allow nerves to pass through the vertebrae.

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During a laminectomy, an incision is made over the vertebrae where nerve compression is occurring.

Once the patient is discharged, the doctor may recommend physical therapy sessions for a person to increase muscle strength, improve neck range of motion, and reduce muscle spasms during recovery from a laminectomy. Lifting and bending should be avoided for three weeks after the procedure, and driving is prohibited for the first few weeks and until the person is able to stop taking strong pain relievers. During recovery from a laminectomy, patients should try to walk every day to gain strength and flexibility, but standing or sitting for long periods can increase pain and cause muscle spasms. The proper amount of rest helps the body in its natural healing process, and maintaining a healthy and nutritious diet is essential during this stressful time. Recovery from a laminectomy can be a slower process for those who are in poor health, older, or if there were complications during the procedure.

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