Making up part of the protective wall of the spinal canal, a lamina is a flat, short and strong bony structure on the spinal vertebrae. Each vertebra consists of an anterior (front) and a posterior (back) section. The posterior is the main supportive body of the spine, while the anterior is made of a number of smaller bones forming a hollow arch that protects the spinal cord. There is a pair of laminae on each side of this arch, connecting to the spinous process, which are the visible knobs that stick out of your spine.

Conditions that affect a lamina

A lamina can be involved with spinal stenosis, or narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck or lower back. When the channels that the spinal cord and nerve roots travel through become narrower — often due to age-related degeneration — nerves can be squeezed or compressed, causing pain and other debilitating symptoms. One of the ways the laminae are connected to stenosis is through spinal arthritis. When the joints connecting the vertebrae wear out, the bones — including the laminae — wear on each other. Bone spurs often form as a natural response to this friction, which can protrude from a lamina into the spinal canal, causing spinal stenosis.

Spinal stenosis pain can radiate from your neck or back out to the extremities. You can also experience numbness, weakness or a tingling sensation in the affected areas. Sitting for long periods of time, leaning backward or getting out of bed can be especially uncomfortable.

Treatment options

If you have been diagnosed with stenosis related to the laminae, the first step is usually a round of physician-prescribed conservative treatments including hot/cold compression or rest. If weeks or months of these methods do not bring desired relief, surgery may then become an option. One common open back surgery used to treat spinal stenosis is a laminoplasty. In this procedure, surgeons cut into both sides of the lamina, creating a doorway to open up space in the spinal canal. This is a highly invasive surgery that can require overnight hospitalization and a long, difficult recovery period.

Laser Spine Institute offers several minimally invasive procedures that address nerve compression caused by spinal stenosis. Our procedures are performed on an outpatient basis and have a shorter recovery time^ compared to traditional open back surgery. Contact us today for a no-cost review* of your MRI and to find out if you are a candidate for our procedures.

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