Before explaining laminectomy, you’ll want to understand the spinal anatomy. Although it’s complex, the spine contains a sophisticated system of bones, muscles, nerves, ligaments, and tendons.
Like the internet, the nerves of the spine provide the connections and flow everywhere from the brain down to the tips of the toes. They also branch out on both sides of the spine. The nerves are responsible for the sensation in the hands, fingers, arms, legs, and toes.
What Is the Lamina?
The spine contains vertebrae, which are bones. Each one has two parts of a vertebral bone of the nerve roots in the back of the spine. The lamina is the flat part of the triangular shaped bone that meets at the spinous process, which protrudes from the spine.
The lamina acts as a shield for the spinal canal. They protect the nerve roots that branch off of the spinal cord and as the nerves exit the spine.
Why a Laminectomy Is Done
The lamina can have bony overgrowths or bone spurs that narrow the spinal canal. This can become a problem for people who have arthritis in their spine. This happens as a standard part of the aging process. The bone spurs can put pressure on the nerves the lamina protects and cause nerve compression thereby causing pain.
Doctors may recommend a laminectomy for patients with spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the space in the spine. Like the bone spurs on the lamina, this causes compression, pinching, or irritation. The most common cause of spinal stenosis is wear-and-tear in the spine that comes with aging.
A doctor will usually recommend more conservative treatments to treat the pain. These include medication, physical therapy, and injections. If none of these relieve the symptoms, the doctor may recommend a laminectomy.
This is a procedure that removes all or part of lamina to decompress the nerve and relieve pain, weakness, or tingling that may radiate down the arms and legs. It’s not as common, but some patients may experience loss of bladder or bowel control. A laminectomy does not cure arthritis. It simply decompresses the nerve.
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