What is Lumbar Decompression
The surgical procedure that alleviates pain caused by pinched nerves is decompression. Lumbar decompression is the removal of material (bone or disc) that is taking up space resulting in pressure on the nerve root in the lumbar region.
Candidates for Lumbar Decompression
For those who suffer from back or spine conditions, this form of surgery may be recommended. Common conditions that may target you as a candidate for lumbar decompression may be spinal stenosis or disc herniation. While there are other conditions that may prompt lumbar decompression, they are not as common.
Lumbar Decompression Procedures
The most common types of spine surgery procedures for decompression are a microdisectomy and a laminectomy. Both have a high success ratio that result in pain relief in both the lower back and leg(s).
Depending on the degree of pain from the compressed nerve root, some patients may also require a spinal fusion for optimal decompression most especially if the affected nerve root is compressed in the foramen.
For patients who opt to have the lumbar decompression surgery, it can take quite some time for the healing of the nerve root. Typically, if the patient shows signs of healing within 60-90 days, the healing of the nerve root continues. If however, there are no signs of healing within the first 60-90 days after the lumbar decompression has been performed, the procedure is deemed to be unsuccessful and further treatment will be considered.
For those who experienced pain in their leg(s), the lumbar decompression most often relieves this pain once the surgery has been performed. There is a very small percentage of patients who may still suffer from leg pain until the nerve heals. This is especially true if there is an increase in swelling around the nerve and nerve root.
Can Spinal Stenosis Recur
For those who suffered from spinal stenosis and had lumbar decompression surgery, there is a possibility that the stenosis can recur. It can be the same as one suffered before the surgery, or it may be more or less severe as previously suffered.
Patients who experienced relief after their surgery, may experience pain soon after. Most often, this is a case of lumbar disc herniation. Those who experience this condition can expect it to recur within the 60-90 day timeframe after their surgery. The percentage of patients who experience this so soon after lumbar decompression surgery is very small.
Are There Risks to Having Lumbar Decompression Surgery
There are always risks to having any type of surgery. There is a risk of nerve damage and while uncommon, patients should be advised that this risk exists. There is also the possibility that the surgeon may not remove all of the disc or bone that was pinching the nerve. The result is the patient still experiencing pain and discomfort.
Dealing with Pain After Lumbar Decompression Surgery
As is the case with all surgeries, there is pain and discomfort during the healing process. Tenderness and discomfort in the incision area is normal and as the incision heals, this will subside. Most often, a pain medication is prescribed by your surgeon for the first few days at least. Some patients may find ice packs offer pain relief. If this is the case for you, keep ice packs in the freezer, ready to be used for 10 minutes every hour.
If there is any increasing redness, fluid or extreme pain or loss of feeling in legs, your doctor should be called immediately to ensure there is no infection or nerve damage.
It should be noted after reading the above that these results are most often from traditional or conventional lumbar decompression surgery.
There are minimally invasive techniques that are commonly performed that have minimal risk, high success ratio and almost immediate results in living a pain free lifestyle - one you lived before suffering from spinal conditions.