Decompression surgery is performed in order to alleviate the pressure on body structures such as the low back (lumbar spine). Decompression surgery is required in cases where narrowing of the spinal canal (which houses the spinal cord) occurs. It may also be indicated where there is narrowing of the joint space at the point where the nerves exit the spine prior to travelling down the legs to the feet. The narrowing is generally the result of a degenerative process which occurs over several years, thus the preponderance of this condition in the over fifties age group. With degeneration of the spinal disc and surrounding joints, the pressure on the bones may increase, thus causing the bone to enlarge in response to the higher load it is exposed to. This bone enlargement may compress the spinal nerves and give rise to pain that can radiate to the buttock, knee & foot.
Types of Surgery
Lumbar decompression surgery may involve the removal of a small portion of bone or disc at the point where it is compressing the surrounding nerve. The goal is to decrease the pressure on the nerve thereby alleviating symptoms. The two most common forms of decompression surgery are a microdiscectomy and a laminectomy. Microdiscectomy is normally carried out due to nerve compression induced by a herniated disc. This is one cause of symptoms of sciatica.
The second most common form of decompression surgery is referred to as lumbar laminectomy. This is usually performed in cases where stenosis (narrowing) of the spinal canal has occurred secondary to spinal degeneration. By removing a part of the spinal bone known as the lamina it is hoped that this will decrease pressure on the nerve and reduce symptoms such as muscle weakness. Other symptoms of nerve compression include pain in the low back or legs, numbness, tingling or pins & needles. Surgery will only be performed in cases where leg symptoms are present as a result of spinal stenosis.
Management following surgery
On the first day post-surgery, the physiotherapist will encourage the patient to sit out of bed & to walk using a zimmer frame. This will be progressed to walking without assistance & then to stair walking within the first five days in most cases. The majority of patients are discharged from hospital within 2-5 days. There will be a gradual return to normal activities. Driving is normally allowed after 3-4 weeks but it is very important to check with your insurance company before attempting to drive as you may will not be covered for a certain period after surgery. Heavy lifting will be avoided for a period of about 12 weeks.
To find out more regarding post-surgery care, contact Naas Physio Clinic on:
(045) 874 682
or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
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