Spinal stenosis surgery allows for the spinal canal to be reopened and this is critical because the spinal canal houses the spinal cord as well as other vital nerves.
The narrowing of the canal is often a result of arthritis, bone spurs, or other related problems. These conditions can cause the nerves to be pinched or squeezed causing pain. Those who are affected are usually middle-aged or older.
Symptoms associated with spinal stenosis typically include pain in the areas of the legs, back, and neck as well as weakness and or cramping in the arms and legs. With spinal stenosis, pain can be so debilitating that your ability to walk can be hindered.
What Are My Options?
Although spinal stenosis surgery may be an option down the road, our orthopedic team strongly believes in exploring non-surgical before turning to surgery. Medications such as Tylenol or ibuprofen which are over the counter medications can help to ease some back pain associated with spinal stenosis. A cortisone steroid injection has also been shown to help alleviate symptoms when injected into your spinal column.
Working with physical therapy and performing certain exercises is also a good way to develop strength in the back and your core which can help to increase mobility. After trying all of the non-surgical methods, then and only then will our orthopedic team discuss the possibility of surgery.
How To Prepare For Surgery
To ensure that the body is ready for surgery, begin exercise to develop and strengthen muscles to help with the recovery process. Also, if you are a tobacco user, you will be advised to try to quit before surgery to minimize your risks.
Consulting with your doctors about any medications you may be taking is critical as they can react with anesthesia during surgery. Arrange for transportation ahead of time to and from the hospital as you may not be in a position to drive yourself.
Types of Surgery
Three common types of spinal stenosis surgery include:
A laminectomy is a procedure where the bone spurs or ligaments are removed that are putting pressure on the nerve. A single incision can be made or several small ones depending on where the pressure of the nerves is located.
A spinal fusion may be done in correlation with a laminectomy which helps to keep the vertebrae together. Our doctors use screws and rods to help connect the vertebrae until the body generates new bone.
A foraminotomy is a procedure where the surgeon expands the portion of the vertebrae where the nerve roots branch out to the rest of your body.
Every surgery has risks involved, even risks from anesthesia and that is why it is so important to discuss any medications you may be on or discuss any other risk factors that you may have with your doctor before surgery.
For those who smoke cigarettes, are overweight, diabetic, or those elderly patients, hold a higher chance of complications. Complications resulting from spinal stenosis surgery include:
- Possible infection, bleeding, or blood clots
- A tear in the membrane that covers the spinal cord
- Nerve damage
Everyone’s recovery is different as each person’s body is different. Some patients may be able to return home the same day where others may need to remain in the hospital for a few days. With spinal stenosis surgery, there are many different types as well which play a factor in the length of your hospital stay as well.
Once home and recovering, it can take up to three months to fully heal especially is part of your procedure consisted of a spinal fusion. Although it may be difficult, walking will ultimately help in the recovery process.
The outcome for most patients is good as many reports that their lives have gone back to normal and they no longer suffer from leg pain and mobility also improves greatly.
However, this surgery is not a cure-all for all symptoms and other conditions associated with spinal stenosis such as arthritis. So, our Atlanta orthopedic doctors strongly believe in complete rehabilitation and maintenance of your symptoms and want you to live your best life and we work with you to provide a multitude of treatment options to make sure that every condition and symptoms are managed accordingly.
Call us today at (404) 855-2141 to learn more.