Spine-related complications can range from mild to severe and are sometimes a result of pressure on the nerves around the vertebrae area. This problem could be worsened by a spinal injury or sudden bone spur. Pressure to the spinal cord and its nerves can cause severe pain, numbness, and a tingling sensation around your arms and legs. When the pressure is exerted in the lumbar region, you could experience difficulties walking and bowel and bladder function complications.

If initial attempts to relieve these symptoms with therapy, manual manipulation, or anti-inflammatory medications are unsuccessful, your doctor could recommend laminectomy. A laminectomy is a prevalent spine surgery used to relieve the pressure from the spinal nerves. The procedure involves the removal of some part of the vertebrae bone. Although laminectomy is commonly done on the lumbar spine area, it can be done on other spine areas which experience pain.

Laminectomy could offer a wide range of benefits to individuals suffering from different spine disorders when it is done by a skilled surgeon. At Dr. Rappard’s Practice, we offer expert guidance and treatment services for all our clients in Los Angeles, CA, to ensure a safe and successful laminectomy.

Overview of Laminectomy

Laminectomy is a surgical procedure that involves part of your vertebra that covers the spinal canal. Commonly known as decompression surgery, laminectomy works to enlarge your spinal canal and relieve the pressure on the spinal cord nerves. In most cases, the pressure of spine nerves results from a bony overgrowth within the spinal canal. This condition is common in people with sudden back injuries, arthritis, and other spinal cord complications.

The spinal cord overgrowths that cause pressure on the spinal nerves are a normal effect of aging. Compression of the spinal nerve is associated with symptoms like pain, discomfort, and numbness, which radiates from the arms and legs. In severe cases, this condition could cause difficulties when walking. While laminectomy helps restore the right width in the spine canal, it does not treat underlying conditions like arthritis.

Spinal laminectomy is done on different parts of your back. Lumbar laminectomy is the type of decompressive surgery done on the lower part of your back, and it is aimed at removing the affected part of the spine. In most cases, your doctor will recommend laminectomy if other non-surgical treatments like cold therapy, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medications fail to relieve your condition.

Indications the You Should Undergo a Spinal Laminectomy

If you experience severe pain in the back or neck, muscle weaknesses, and bowel and bladder impairment, you need to consult with a doctor. After examining your symptoms and medical history, they could recommend undergoing decompression surgery. Some of the common indications for laminectomy include:

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is characterized by narrowing the lumbar canal at your lower back or neck. There are many causes of spinal stenosis, with the most common one being age-related spinal wear and tear. When the spinal canal narrows, there is overcrowding. The pressure inside this canal may cause the spine to rupture, making the situation more complicated. Laminectomy will help remove the pressure and relieve the symptoms associated with this condition.

Herniated Disc

The discs in your spine work to provide cushioning and space to allow proper alignment of the vertebrae. While performing these functions, the spinal discs may be prone to damage. Although the spinal cord is strong and flexible, it may be damaged by sudden injury or trauma to the back. Damage to the spinal discs may cause a tear on the tissues and leakage of the spinal fluid.

A herniated disc is associated with severe pain, which comes from compression of the nerves around the damaged disc. In addition to pain and numbness, a herniated disc could cause difficulty in coordination, balance, and walking. Often, decompressive spinal surgery helps relieve the pressure created by the damaged disc. Removing your lamina at this point will ease access to the disc for necessary repairs.

Degenerative Back Disorders

The spinal discs are the rubbery cushions positioned between the bones of the spine. These discs help you move or bend while acting as shock absorbers for any trauma to the back. These discs can wear out with time, causing the vertebrae bones to rub against each other. Often, this condition is prevalent in individuals over forty years. In addition to aging, the following factors increase your susceptibility to degenerative disc disorder:

  • Smoking
  • Being female
  • Increased physical activity
  • Obesity
  • Acute injuries affecting the back

Laminectomy would help the surgeon relieve the pressure from the worn-out discs while accessing the area to repair the already existing damage.


Spondylosis is a degenerative condition resulting from wear and tear along the spine and is associated with aging. This condition affects both the facet joints and spinal discs. When the bones of your spine rub against each other, a bony spur can be formed. These bony spurs exert pressure on the spinal nerves causing pain and numbness.

Although Spondylosis could be treated with non-surgical methods like physical therapy, the doctor could recommend laminectomy when the condition is causing severe symptoms. Additionally, the inability of other remedies to function would leave the decompression surgery as your only choice.

Laminectomy Surgery Procedure

Laminectomy surgery is carried out while the patient is under anesthesia. Whether the surgeon uses local or general anesthesia will depend on the extent of the surgery and the severity of the nerve compression. Your surgeon performs the surgery through the following procedure:

  • The surgeon will clean the skin around where they wish to make an incision. This helps prevent bacterial infections.
  • When the area is sterilized, the doctor incisions over the affected area and uses small instruments to remove the lamina. The size of the incision varies depending on your body size. Additionally, the incisions used for minimally invasive spine surgery will be smaller than those used in open back surgery.
  • If laminectomy aims to treat a herniated disc, the surgeon will remove the damaged disc.
  • In cases where a vertebra has slipped over another, spinal fusion may be necessary. Spinal fusion is done by fusing multiple vertebrae using a bone graft.
  • After the surgery, the surgeon will stitch the area and cover it with sterile bandages.

When your doctor discharges you after a laminectomy, they could advise that you gradually keep off strenuous activity and increase your physical activity.

Benefits of Laminectomy

The main reason doctors recommend laminectomy is to relieve spinal nerve pressure and ensure pain relief. After a laminectomy, you may need several weeks to recover from the procedure, depending on the type and extent of the surgery. Other benefits that are associated with this procedure include

  1. Fewer radiating nerve symptoms. Having a radiating nerve could make it difficult to concentrate on one task without the distracting pain. When the lower nerves of your spine are compressed, a laminectomy could cause relief from numbness and tingling sensations on your feet.
  2. Increased mobility. Constant nerve pressure can cause severe pain in your back and surrounding areas. This could make it difficult to stand and walk. Once the nerves are decompressed using laminectomy, your ability to move improves significantly.
  3. Better quality of life. Constant pain, numbness, and discomfort can affect your ability to engage in different activities and thus affect your quality of life. Seeking a better quality of life could make undergoing laminectomy an easy choice when other remedies fail. Not having to worry about discomfort and back pains makes it easy for you to go to work, interact with people freely and participate in your favorite activities.

Risks and Complications Associated with Back Surgery Laminectomy

Lumbar laminectomy is a procedure used to treat symptoms of a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, and other degenerative spine conditions. Although complications with this surgery are not common, the following factors could delay or prevent the success of the surgery:

  • Smoking. Doctors discourage smoking before and after laminectomy surgery. Smoking is associated with post-surgical infections and slow healing of the surgical site.
  • Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a negative bone disorder that causes the bone around your body, including the spinal cord, to weaken with advancement in age. For individuals with osteoporosis, laminectomy will only offer relief temporally to spinal nerve compression, and the symptoms are likely to reoccur.
  • Associated conditions. Laminectomy is commonly performed on older individuals whose natural aging process has caused degenerative spine disorders. The presence of other health conditions like diabetes and heart disease could slow down the recovery from the surgery.
  • History of similar surgeries. Performing a surgical procedure on an area with a similar surgery lowers the rates of success for the surgery. Therefore, if you have a history of spine surgeries, laminectomy may fail to correct your symptoms effectively.
  • Mental health conditions. Having depression, anxiety, or another mental health condition before a laminectomy may cause poor surgical outcomes. This is because individuals with this mental condition have a low tolerance to pain and may be incapable of following through with post-surgical rehabilitation procedures.

Frequently Asked Questions on Laminectomy

Learning that you may need a spinal cord surgery may not be pleasant, and you may be confused about what to expect during the process and possible outcomes. The following are some frequently asked questions on the laminectomy surgery:

  1. Is there a difference between laminectomy and discectomy?

Both laminectomy and discectomy are common forms of spinal decompression surgeries. Both of these surgeries involve the removal of tissue from the spinal cord. During a laminectomy, your surgeon can access your vertebrae for procedures like discectomy.

  1. What should I expect from a laminectomy surgery?

Typically, a laminectomy surgery takes up to two hours. However, it could take longer when different levels of spinal cord damage need to be addressed. You will be able to go home a few hours after the surgery. Depending on the exact nature of your condition, your surgeon will decide between using open surgery and minimally invasive spine surgery. The use of MISS for this procedure is less complicated and heals faster.

Before going home, your surgeon can offer you some medications to relieve pain and discomfort. Additionally, they will advise you on caring for yourself until you fully recover from the surgery.

  1. Is laminectomy effective?

Yes. Up to 80% of patients who undergo laminectomy have experienced a relief in the symptoms associated with different spinal cord degenerative disorders. However, it is essential to understand that this procedure helps to relieve pressure but does not correct underlying conditions like arthritis. Therefore, if you fail to seek treatment for these conditions, the symptoms could recur.

  1. When should I call the doctor after the laminectomy?

Like other surgical procedures, there is a chance that laminectomy will not treat your symptoms, or you will experience other complications. If you experience any of the following symptoms following a laminectomy, you need to consult with your healthcare provider:

  • Swelling, foul odor, or redness of the surgical site.
  • Tenderness and swelling of your legs.
  • Breathing Difficulties.
  • Bladder or bowel control problems.

Find a Skilled Neurointerventional Surgeon Near Me

Your lower back suffers significant wear and tear over time, which can result in a wide range of degenerative disorders. These conditions can put excessive pressure on the nerves in your lower spine, causing severe pain and weakening of the legs. When your doctor assesses your symptoms and condition, they could recommend various remedies, including physical therapy and pain medications. If these remedies do not help improve your condition, you may need decompressive surgery.

Laminectomy is a common decompressive surgical procedure involving the enlargement of the spine canal. While this procedure has become very prevalent, it does not mean it is right for you. You will need to visit a surgeon who will conduct a comprehensive examination to determine the source of your pain and recommend the best course of action. At Dr. Rappard’s Clinic, we offer high-tech and top-notch surgical services to treat your spine conditions in Los Angeles, CA, and ensure the best outcome. Contact us today at 424-777-7463 for lumbar laminectomy and other spine surgeries.