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    Old 10-07-2006, 12:03 AM   #1
    paingoaway
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    Laminectomy

    I have been approved for an Laminectomy by my worker's compensation insurance company. My orthopedic surgeon stated (recommended) in a report that "the patient is a candidate for right L3-4 and L4-5 [FONT="Arial Black"]decompression[/FONT]". I did some research on laminectomy back surgery and it sounds pretty scary. From what I've been reading a laminectomy consists of the removal of small portion of bone over the nerve root allowing for more space and better healing. I also read that a laminectomy is performed on patients with lumbar spinal stenosis.

    I do not have lumbar spinal stenosis. I have two bulging discs at the L3-4 and L4-5 vertebrates. I've had sciatica for about two years. Right side dominant. I remember very clearly that my orthopedic surgeon told me that he would perform a decompression and it would be a very small incision and I would be able to go home the next day. A laminectomy sounds a lot more invasive then the decompression that my ortho surgeon mentioned. I'm very concern about this laminectomy that the insurance company has approved. I'm only 26 years old and I really don't want to have an invasive surgery at my age. Any clarification or experiences on a laminectomy will be helpful. Thanks.

     
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    Old 10-07-2006, 07:04 AM   #2
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    Re: Laminectomy

    Well at your age, you may not have a problem after the surgery. You are at the bounce back age; over forty and you do not bounce very high. Going home the next day cannot be to bad of a surgery, be thankful that you are not getting a fusion with hardware. If the Laminectomy fails later down the road, you may be back for the next upgrade, the fusion. You have youth on your side, and a lami is less evasive to your situation. It will hurt after you get home, but you will notice the results. A simple fix. You do not need to sweat this one.

     
    Old 10-07-2006, 11:07 AM   #3
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    Re: Laminectomy

    Hi,

    I just had decompressive laminectomy 2 weeks ago due to severe spinal stenosis, however I also have DDD and had 2 herniated discs also. I did have epidural shots for the discs & the shots seemed to help the disc pain. However my laminectomy might also have helped open up space for my problem discs. I am only 37 but had back pain and leg pain that progressed over 3 and 1/2 yrs. I tried everything also including physical therapy. But I got to the point I could no longer walk upright or walk or stand up for more than about a minute...otherwise my back, legs, shoulders, neck went into severe spasm and I had bad burning pain in my rear and down my legs. Since my condition was never going to get better & would probably only get worse ( I couldnt imagine how much worse it could get) I finally decided on surgery. In general, for laminectomy, people are usually in the hospital only about 2 days unless one has complications. Thankfully my surgery went great, no complications, no fever, the wound looked good..so i was released in 2 days.

    Mind you, it is painful as any surgery would be. But for me at least, all my other pain I had before surgery was gone! THey get you up out of bed usually on the 2nd day and walk around a little with a walker. It does hurt like hell but if you follow their instructions as to how to get out of bed it does make a big difference in the amount of pain you feel. They call it a log roll to get in or out of bed. The pt's at the hospital I was in showed me how to do this, how to get in & out of a car, how to use the toilet, how not to bend or twist, and how to get up & down stairs before I left. You can't really bend or twist at the waist...I got a "grabber" device which is a godsend as I'm always dropping everything.

    So far my recovery seems to be going great. I did everything they said, I walk as much as I can with either my walker or a cane. My wound is just about healed up. In my case they stitched me up on the inside (which will disintegrate on their own) and on the outside of my skin they used "steri-strips" (which is similar to butterfly bandages). I had to leave them alone & just let them fall off on their own and not really wash over that area. But already they all fell off. My scar is about 5 inches long ( I had 3 levels decompressed) but it looks pretty good already. It's been a couple days over 2 weeks and I hardly need any more pain killers. I take 1 or 2 per day now and will probably stop them all together soon. (Also, before I left the hospital, they gave me valium and some painkillers b/c I had a 2 hour drive home....this made my ride much more comfortable)

    All in all, I am sooooo happy I went through with the surgery. My old pain is gone and my surgery pain is almost gone. I am looking forward to a more normal life again! If you have any other questions, feel free to ask and I wish you lots of luck with your surgery

     
    Old 10-08-2006, 05:51 PM   #4
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    Re: Laminectomy

    Thank you for the replies. I was really and still worried about the surgery. I use to be an avid runner, cyclist, and backpacker before my back injury. I just don't want to sit around and not be able to do any physical activites. It's hit me really hard. People from work,long time friends, and relatives have told me and made comments about the physical deterioration my body has gone through. I've lost close to thirty pounds since my back injury. I sometimes get really nauseated from the pain going into my legs.

    I am worried that the surgery might not go well and that it is very invasive. But from you guys have told it seems that the surgery (laminectomy) does help. I will be seeing my doctor this coming friday for the the pre-op consultation. I will have a list of questions for him. Once againt thanks for the replies.

     
    Old 10-09-2006, 05:27 AM   #5
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    Re: Laminectomy

    I used to be an advid outdoors person , hiking , backpacking / hunting ride my bikes ect..but since my laminectomy / fusion my life went down hill in a hurry . At the age of 38 I had a back injury @ work and now I don't do to much. Have to pay everyone to do stuff for me now..Your young so you may heal different. Good Luck

     
    Old 10-09-2006, 07:00 AM   #6
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    Re: Laminectomy

    Pain,

    If you ever do decide on surgery, make sure you find a good surgeon (either neurologist or orthopaedist) who does spine only and who also has a fellowship in spine. I got lucky and found an ortho who does adult spinal disorders only & specializes in stenosis, scoliosis & spinal cord injury....his whole orthopaedic team also works with some sports teams. I did some research on my own as well and ended up feeling comfortable and confident in the surgeon I chose. My physical therapist actually mentioned this doc to me b/c some of his patients went to him and I also talked to some of those patients.

    Also if it helps any, I used to be extremely active (well, between my lupus flares, anyway) ....I used to power walk and jog, go to the gym & work out every other day, dance, and always "get-up-and-go". It was hard enough when I got a flare & couldnt do anything...but then I developed stenosis on top of that, which never went away. At least I knew my flares would always go away at some point. But the stenosis totally changed my life. I was just about home bound....nevermind any exercise, couldnt go out anywhere b/c I couldnt walk. COuldnt go out to eat b/c I couldnt stand and wait for a seat. I lost what I thought were friends. The only place i still forced myself to go was to work everyday and believe me, it was very hard. And I gained a ton of weight. And the worst part was alot of people didnt really believe I had this (even though they could see I couldnt walk)....they would always say "ohhh you're too young for all that, you'll be fine", or "you cant have arthritis/stenosis, you're too young"...<whatever>.

    There's always a risk when you have surgery...for myself, the risks finally outweighed the progessing pain and my disappearing life. You have to decide for yourself when the time is right

     
    Old 10-10-2006, 05:13 AM   #7
    shawley
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    Re: Laminectomy

    baybreeze, don't that really stink ? I had what I thought were close friends. Now all I here from them is how are you going to get out hunting ? On your 4 wheel drive scooter..? And that it isn't as bad as I say it is, or just doing it for a big settlement..I was NEVER Lazy ! Any of my employers would tell you I was one of THE hardest workers they have had. Not anymore.. Yeah it hurts to here people say stuff. I even had my little brother tell me he has back pain ,he just sucks it up , well 2 weeks ago he fell from a ladder and ruptured a disc , he crying like a baby...Now he's going to therapy and maybe shots next,,,He told me it hurt so bad, I just laughed and told him now he knows what I'm going through,,Now he agree's with me..lol..Its not funny , I love my brother but now he knows the hardway..

     
    Old 10-10-2006, 06:37 AM   #8
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    Lightbulb Re: Laminectomy

    It must be almost human nature that most people, friends included, can't wrap their mind around what chronic pain means.........and that it is REAL...............I've found it is better to usually just respond with OK when I'm asked , 'if I'm better?' I want to say, "I'm not getting BETTER...the damage is permanent and it's not getting better!'
    At work friends I had known for 12-15 years became less and less friendly over time...That's why these boards are so great. There are people here who have literally walked in your shooes..............
    In answer to the original question. Sounds like it is the 'terminology' that is confusing...........ie 'compression vs laminectomy'...........
    Those terms are sort of confusing....Removal of lamina is a removal or grating of bone..........And that is how a decompression is done......Talk to your Doctor and get him/her to explain the terminolgy in detail.....
    Good luck.........And remember you have every reason to have a 100% recovery.........you don't seem to have any permanent nerve or cord damage and you are young.......

     
    Old 10-10-2006, 10:28 AM   #9
    taosdaphne
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    Re: Laminectomy

    I had laminectomy w. 2 level fusion and hardware 2 years ago--result of a longago accident. And I have stenosis.

    For me, pain wasn't what drove me to surgery--my increasing lack of mobility (no balance, couldn't stand or walk for long before I couldn't stand upright. It was the spasming from the compressed nerves that really did it. I would spasm every 15 seconds for up to 8-10 hours and felt like a truck had run over me. Wasn't sleeping, was mostly spasming on the couch in front of the TV. And I used to be Ms. Outdoors--birdwatcher, hiker, kayaker, rider.

    The spasms, thank god, have gone except for maybe one fifteen minute episode a month. Gradually walkng better too, and have decided not to let disability keep me from outdoors. I have hand controls for the car (still have right leg weakness), and with a walker I can at least get to the shoreline of the lake, see the snow geese, etc. It's a long recovery--be patient.

     
    Old 10-10-2006, 10:00 PM   #10
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    Lightbulb Re: Laminectomy

    In the previous post taoesdaph said 'it was NOT pain that drove her to surgery it was the loss of mobility, numbness etc.' First time I've heard anyone say that since my NS told me 'pain is not an indicator for any type of back (or spinal) surgery. The indicators for surgery are loss of mobility, progressive neuropathic symptoms, these are the symptoms that usually send us to see a NS who does a neuro-exam and pretty much knows right aways if there is a progressive loss of nerve funtion that would indicate he need for an MRI to confirm....So the indicator for surgery according to my NS is never pain.... (they don't explain that to us that right away)--We get the MRI, maybe some injections and hopefully the surgery can be delayed or even prevented..................But the pain which can be severe 24/7 is often chronic as we learn all too well.
    Hard for me to understand at first but after all the unwanted experience of learning about the back and nervous system I understand better now....

     
    Old 10-11-2006, 04:11 PM   #11
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    Re: Laminectomy

    The laminectomy is usually done to get at the herniated/bulging disk(s) so that a microdiscectomy (full or partial) can be done.

    I had a laminotomy at L4/5 and L5/S1 and a partial discectomy at both levels. The laminotomy means that they took out only some of the lamnia as opposed to a larger porton or all of it. My surgery was in December 2005.

    I still have nerve damage down my left side, but the pain from the herniated disks is much relieved. Unfortunately, the repair of the disks just unmasked the SI joint problems that were there, too. Now I'm dealing with that (in addition to being 8 months pregnant!).

    I was in the hospital 3 days (this was NOT a MicroD) and I have an approximately 5-6" scar. The staples came out about 10 days after the surgery. For the first three days home I took 3-4 percoset per day, and then started cutting back. After 2 weeks I didn't use any at all (I was mainly using them at night). I then started PT (12 sessions initially, followed by an additional 10 sessions). I had a walker and a 3-in-1 chair for use at home to help me. For the first 10 days I had a home health care PT coming in to help me regain my strength. She came every other day. It really wasn't a bad experience (compared to my hemmorhoidectomy a few years earlier!) overall.

    Good luck!

     
    Old 10-12-2006, 05:28 AM   #12
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    Re: Laminectomy

    I don't know but my Laminectomy left me with a big hole in my spine as I look at it on the x-ray.. I think all I had was a Laminectomy / fusion .

     
    Old 10-12-2006, 05:33 AM   #13
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    Re: Laminectomy

    I didn't have loss of mobility until my NS did a laminectomy/fusion..[QUOTE=BigMac]In the previous post taoesdaph said 'it was NOT pain that drove her to surgery it was the loss of mobility, numbness etc.' First time I've heard anyone say that since my NS told me 'pain is not an indicator for any type of back (or spinal) surgery. The indicators for surgery are loss of mobility, progressive neuropathic symptoms, these are the symptoms that usually send us to see a NS who does a neuro-exam and pretty much knows right aways if there is a progressive loss of nerve funtion that would indicate he need for an MRI to confirm....So the indicator for surgery according to my NS is never pain.... (they don't explain that to us that right away)--We get the MRI, maybe some injections and hopefully the surgery can be delayed or even prevented..................But the pain which can be severe 24/7 is often chronic as we learn all too well.
    Hard for me to understand at first but after all the unwanted experience of learning about the back and nervous system I understand better now....[/QUOTE]

     
    Old 10-12-2006, 08:08 AM   #14
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    Re: Laminectomy

    I was a "go getter" too. Hard physical worker, runner, bicycle, workouts for years. I've had back pain as long as I can remember but I tolerated it. Around age 39 or so (I'm nearing 51 yrs. now) my legs would get numb during runs. The longer I was on my feet the more numb I'd become. Shortly thereafter along came the leg and buttock pain. At that point I went strightly to bicycling all the while maintaining my hard work ethic. I LOVED working hard but it was getting super difficult to keep it up. I have degraded and suffered for 10+ years now. The last 3 or 4 years have been HELL. I can't say that I've seen it all but I've seen alot when it comes to experiencing going to doctors. I've had good and bad. If it weren't for the "bad" I might not have degraded to the level I have now. You know how it is.... they know everything about what you're feeling and you know nothing. The back stigma is alive and well and sometimes doctors are as much at fault for promoting it as anyone. The legit folks get lumped in with the frauds no matter what. Unseen pain is the worse pain... oh well... just venting.

     
    Old 10-14-2006, 11:08 PM   #15
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    Re: Laminectomy

    I saw my orthopedic surgeon on Friday to talk about my upcoming laminectomy. He stated that he would make a a two inch incision and go in with a microscope. He said I would be able to go home the very next day. He gives me a 95% recovery prognosis. He stated that I have nerve impingement at three levels, L3-4(2.3mm), L4-5 (2.7mm) and L5-S1(7mm) all with nerve encroachment. So i am definitely going to go ahead with the surgery. Thanks for all of your help.

     
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