Lumbar spinal stenosis surgery is typically recommended by doctors for only the most severe cases of spinal stenosis, when a patient can no longer perform daily activities without persistent and unrelenting pain, numbness, and weakness. Surgery is often a last resort for patients when medically conservative therapies have failed to relieve this lower back condition.
Traditional open-back surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis can include:
- Laminectomy, or decompression. This is a surgical procedure performed to increase space in the spinal canal, which will relieve pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots. This procedure is often done to treat bone spurs, herniated discs, pinched nerves, bulging discs, and other spinal conditions.
- Foraminectomy, or removing large amounts of bone to open up space in the vertebral foramen, which is the space where nerve roots travel out of the spinal column. Opening the vertebral foramen relieves pressure on impinged nerve roots. This procedure is used to treat foraminal stenosis and other spinal conditions.
- Spinal fusion may be performed in conjunction with the above surgeries if surgeons believe fusion is necessary to stabilize the spinal column.
Approximately 75% of all cases of spinal stenosis occur in the lumbar region, or lower back. Because we rely on our lower backs to carry most of our weight – as well as support daily activities like standing, walking, lifting, and so on – the lower back is the site of many spinal conditions.
If you have symptoms indicating lumbar spinal stenosis, such as dull aching pain in the lower back or pain radiating to the legs, buttocks, or hips, your doctor will likely first take a medically conservative approach before surgery is considered as an option. These initial treatments include rest, over-the-counter medications, deep tissue massage, and physical therapy. Epidural steroid injections for spinal stenosis are often the next course of treatment if your pain still persists or gets worse.
Finally, if your symptoms are severely restricting your ability to go to work or to enjoy leisure activities, your doctor may suggest any of the above types of surgery for your lumbar spinal stenosis. But, remember, traditional open-back surgery of any kind involves general anesthesia and an extensive recovery period.
Laser Spine Institute, however, offers several alternative, minimally invasive endoscopic procedures for lumbar spinal stenosis, depending on the specifics of your condition. For more detailed information on these procedures, go to our procedures overview page or click on any of these categories: laminotomy, foraminotomy, percutaneous endoscopic discectomy, and facet thermal ablation. Please contact LSI today and we will provide you with a free review of your MRI or CT scan, as well as more information about our revolutionary procedures.