Lumbar Spine Surgery
Lumbar spine surgery is used to relieve back pain resulting from various spinal conditions. The goal of any lower back surgery is to alleviate pain, stabilize the spine, and restore function by removing pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerves.
In most cases, lumbar spine pain treatment begins with a series of nonsurgical treatments that attempt to relieve symptoms. When these measures fail, or due to the severity of the damage causing the pain, lumbar spine surgery is recommended.
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Types of Lower Back Surgery
There are different types of surgery for lower back pain, including:
- Laminectomy and laminotomy – A laminectomy removes the lamina, which is located at the back of the vertebrae. A removal of only a portion of the lamina is called a laminotomy.
- Discectomy – This procedure is used to treat a bulging or herniated disc.
- Fusion – Two or more vertebrae in the lumbar spine are fused together to stabilize the spine.
- Foraminotomy – This type of lower back surgery widens the passageway around the nerve roots in your spine.
Lumbar Spinal Surgery Benefits
Lumbar spine surgery can alleviate your chronic pain and restore your function so that you can return to your previous activities. Minimally invasive lower back surgery offers patients several benefits over traditional open back surgery, including:
- Much shorter recovery period
- Procedures performed on an outpatient basis
- A small incision (approximately 1-inch)
- Minimal scarring
Preparing for a Lumbar Procedure
Preparation for surgery will depend on the type of lumber spine procedure you’re having. In most cases, part of your preparation will require that you:
- Stop smoking – Smoking slows recovery. You may be asked to stop smoking for a period before and after surgery.
- Stop taking certain medications – Some medications and supplements are known to increase bleeding. You will be advised on which medications you need to stop taking and for how long.
- Fast for 6 to 12 hours – You will need to fast before your procedure and will be told when to stop eating and drinking before surgery.
- Arrange a ride home – You cannot drive yourself after lower back surgery and will need to arrange to have someone pick you up.
What to Expect During Your Lumbar Procedure
The specifics of your procedure vary depending on the type(s) of lumbar spine surgery you are having. Most are performed using a minimally invasive procedure through a tiny incision over the affected portion of the spine. The incision will usually measure approximately an inch and allow for the insertion of the surgical instrument or laser that will repair the damage. A special type of X-ray called fluoroscopy allows the surgeon to view real-time images during the procedure, aiding in precision.
Once the damage has been repaired, the incision will be closed and covered, and you will be sent to a recovery room to be monitored for a few hours. Minimally invasive lower back pain surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis so that you can go home the same day or the following morning.
Recovery Timeline For Lumbar Back Surgery
Lumbar spine surgery recovery time varies from person to person, but many can get back to most of their regular activities within 4 to 6 weeks.
Pain medication will be given to manage any post-surgical pain if needed. Ice and heat may also help with discomfort. You may be prescribed physical therapy. Physical therapy can help keep lumbar spine surgery recovery time to a minimum by helping you regain function and learn methods to avoid back pain in the future.
Your doctor will let you know when you can resume certain activities and return to work.