When conservative treatments fail to alleviate chronic back pain caused by spinal conditions like herniated discs or spinal stenosis, surgical interventions may be recommended. Two commonly performed procedures for these conditions are laminectomy and microdiscectomy. If you’re considering either of these surgeries, it’s important to understand what to expect during the recovery process. In this blog post, we will delve into the details of a laminectomy and microdiscectomy and outline what you can anticipate during your recovery period.
Laminectomy, also known as decompression surgery, involves removing a portion of the vertebral bone called the lamina to alleviate pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. This procedure is typically performed to treat conditions like spinal stenosis or spondylolisthesis.
- Hospital Stay: Laminectomy may be an outpatient or inpatient procedure, and the length of your hospital stay will depend on factors such as the extent of the surgery and your overall health.
- Post-Surgical Pain: It’s normal to experience some pain and discomfort in the surgical area. Your healthcare team will provide appropriate pain management and medications to keep you comfortable during your recovery.
- Restricted Activities: Following a laminectomy, you may be advised to avoid activities that strain your back, such as heavy lifting, twisting your trunk or bending for a certain period. Your surgeon will provide specific guidelines based on your condition and the extent of the surgery.
- Rehabilitation: Physical therapy and rehabilitation may be recommended to help regain strength and flexibility in your back. Your therapist will guide you through exercises to improve your mobility and overall function.
- Recovery Timeline: The recovery timeline varies from person to person. However, most individuals can expect a gradual improvement over several weeks to months. It’s crucial to follow your surgeon’s instructions and attend all follow-up appointments to ensure proper healing.
Microdiscectomy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure performed to remove part of a herniated or bulging disc that is pressing on a spinal nerve. It aims to relieve pain, numbness, or weakness caused by the compressed nerve.
- Hospital Stay: Microdiscectomy is typically performed as an outpatient procedure, meaning you can expect to go home the same day.
- Incision Care: Your surgeon will provide instructions on how to care for your incision site, including keeping it clean and dry. It’s essential to follow these guidelines to prevent infection.
- Pain Management: You may experience some discomfort at the incision site or residual back pain. Your doctor will prescribe appropriate pain medication or recommend over-the-counter options to manage any discomfort. It is typically also recommended to use ice on the area of the incision to help relieve pain and decrease swelling.
- Gradual Return to Normal Activities: While you’ll need to avoid strenuous activities initially, your surgeon will provide guidance on gradually reintroducing light activities such as walking. It’s essential to follow the recommended timeline to avoid complications.
- Physical Therapy: In some cases, physical therapy may be recommended to aid in your recovery. The therapist will guide you through exercises to strengthen your back muscles and improve flexibility.
- Recovery Timeline: The recovery timeline for microdiscectomy is generally faster compared to traditional open back surgery. Most patients experience relief from leg pain soon after the procedure, with continued improvement over the following weeks.
Recovering from laminectomy or microdiscectomy is a gradual process that requires patience and adherence to your surgeon’s instructions. While each person’s recovery may vary, it’s crucial to follow a proper care plan, attend follow-up appointments, and communicate any concerns or changes in your condition to your healthcare team.
Check out Dr. Eric Broadworth’s video detailing his own personal experience in days 1-3 following his back surgery here.
Sources for Laminectomy:
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (2018). Lumbar Spinal Stenosis. Retrieved from https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/lumbar-spinal-stenosis/
- Mayo Clinic. (2021). Laminectomy. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/laminectomy/about/pac-20394533
- American Association of Neurological Surgeons. (n.d.). Patient Information: Lumbar Laminectomy. Retrieved from https://www.aans.org/en/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Lumbar-Laminectomy
Sources for Microdiscectomy:
- Mayo Clinic. (2020). Microdiscectomy. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/microdiscectomy/about/pac-20384628
- American Association of Neurological Surgeons. (n.d.). Patient Information: Microdiscectomy. Retrieved from https://www.aans.org/en/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Microdiscectomy
- University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center. (n.d.). Microdiscectomy. Retrieved from https://www.ucsfhealth.org/treatments/microdiscectomy