Spinal decompression surgery

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Lumbar laminectomy

A surgical procedure to relieve pain and numbness caused by compressed (pinched) nerves in your lower spine

About

Spinal injuries, tumours and conditions like spinal stenosis (an abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal) can put pressure on the nerves in your spine, causing chronic pain or numbness in your legs. Decompression surgery is a procedure to alleviate the painful symptoms caused by pinched spinal nerves.

Need to know

  • What happens icon plus

    Spinal decompression surgery is carried out under general anaesthetic, meaning you'll be asleep during the procedure.

    Your surgeon will make a small cut in the centre of your back to widen your spinal column and remove a small section of bone. This will release the pressure on the nerves inside your spinal canal, allowing more space for the nerves to heal. Afterwards, your surgeon will close the cut using stitches or surgical staples.

    This operation usually takes around an hour.

  • How to prepare icon plus

    Before your operation, your consultant will let you know what to expect and how to prepare. Like all procedures, there may be some risks and side effects involved. Your consultant will explain these to you and answer any questions you may have.

    Because you'll be having general anaesthetic, your consultant will let you know how long you'll need to avoid eating and drinking before the procedure.

  • Afterwards icon plus

    You'll usually be cared for in hospital for two or three days after your procedure. Your consultant will let you know what to expect and how to care for your back as it heals.

    You may be visited by a physiotherapist in hospital to help you rebuild your strength and mobility. They may also recommend a course of outpatient physio as part of your recovery.

    While it can take several weeks to fully recover, most people feel immediate pain relief after surgery. You may have some lingering pain or numbness, but this should improve as your nerves heal. Your consultant will let you know when you can get back to you usual routine, including work.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.

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