Throughout life, we all deal with some back pain now and then. Strenuous activity, sleeping in an awkward position or pulling a muscle can all result in a little back discomfort. If your pain doesn’t resolve itself or gets worse over the course of a few weeks, it’s important to see a specialist to diagnose and treat the underlying issue which may be putting pressure on the nerves in your back. A consultation with Craig C. Callewart, MD in Dallas, TX can determine if a laminectomy is right for you.
What Causes Back Pain?
The kind of pain requiring this kind of surgical intervention is caused by spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis occurs most often in the lower back and neck. When the small spinal canal becomes compressed, it can cause a pinching of the nerve roots and/or spinal cord and can cause pain, numbness, and weakness. A laminectomy, once recommended by your doctor, can ease this kind of pain.
Several things can cause the narrowing of the spinal canal, such as:
- Bony overgrowths, or bone spurs, within the spinal canal
- Osteoarthritis of the spinal column and the discs between the vertebrae
- Thickening of the back ligaments
- Bulging of the discs separating the vertebrae
Symptoms of spinal stenosis generally start slowly and advance over time. When back pain affects your quality of life, it’s time to see a specialist and discuss your options.
What Is a Laminectomy?
This surgical procedure creates space in your spinal canal by removing the lamina, which is the back part of your vertebrae that covers your spinal cord or nerves. When bony overgrowth and bone spurs are removed and ligaments repaired, it takes the pressure off the nerves and provides pain relief. During the surgery, your doctor will make incisions to remove the appropriate lamina using small instruments for precision.
Doctors can do a laminectomy through open or minimally invasive surgery. Most surgeons opt for the minimally invasive type because the surgery involves only tiny incisions to remove small pieces of bone.
What to Expect
Because this surgery is minimally invasive, the procedure lasts only about an hour, leading to a quick recovery time. Most patients can go home after a brief hospital stay of around three days. Most people can return to most daily routine activities after about two weeks.
Patients get relief from pain because the pressure has been taken off their nerves. Once a full recovery is made, there can be a huge, positive increase in the patient’s quality of life.
Who Is a Good Candidate?
Only your doctor can determine if he or she can relieve your pain from a laminectomy. This surgical procedure will not be the first course of treatment recommended. Doctors will try more conservative approaches to see if patients can find relief without surgery. Other approaches that may be suggested before surgery are:
- Pain management medication
- Physical therapy
- Ice or heat
- Spinal injections
- Regular exercise
If none of these solutions provide relief, or if you’ve been suffering from long-term back pain, your doctor may suggest surgery.
Questions, Concerns, and Understanding
Whenever someone faces the prospect of surgery, questions and concerns will naturally arise. It’s important to have an open and honest conversation with your doctor to make sure you fully understand the procedure and expected results. After your initial consultation, it’s important to write down questions or concerns as they come to you so nothing goes unanswered while you’re talking to your doctor.
Some great questions to ask so you have a better understanding of what the surgery will entail and what results to expect include:
- How long will recovery take?
- When can I expect to feel relief from pain?
- How long do results typically last?
- Will there be any secondary side effects of the surgery?
- How long before I can resume normal activity?
- When can I go back to work?
- Will I have any lifestyle restrictions after I’ve completely healed?
Your doctor is the expert in the field and will put your mind at ease while giving you a realistic picture and time frame of recovery and expected pain relief.
Choosing a Surgeon
Surgery is a big deal and not something to be entered into lightly. It’s a good idea to work with a doctor who recommends the least amount of surgery possible. A comprehensive practice will be able to deal with the majority of patients’ pain through methods other than surgery.
If you require surgery, you want to be in capable hands. Make sure your surgeon is specialized in spinal surgery and has a caring and personalized approach to your care and pain management. You should always feel respected and listened to.
Call for a Consultation
If you’re ready to be free of pain, call the office of Craig C. Callewart M.D. in Dallas, TX. Dr. Callewart believes the most important aspect of quality care is establishing and maintaining good relationships with his patients. He is a specialist in the treatment of traumatic spine injuries and chronic pain.
He is clinically interested in the alleviation of chronic pain caused by spine injuries, scoliosis, lumbar fractures and understanding the advances in the treatment of complicated spinal cases. If you’re a long-time sufferer of chronic back pain or are just starting to experience discomfort, call today and explore all the options that can get you on the road to a pain-free life. You don’t have to live with chronic pain.