The lamina is the back part of a vertebra that covers your spinal canal. When a person has osteoarthritis, the persistent inflammation in the facet joints can create bone spurs on the lamina. These then press on the spinal cord or nerve roots exiting the spinal cord.
At Coastal Spine, our three board-certified spine surgeons, Drs. Deutsch, Momi, and Testaiuti, perform laminectomies to enlarge the compressed space and relieve the pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots.
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is behind most of the problems with the lamina of the spine. This is colloquially known as “wear and tear” arthritis and is simply the degradation of the facet joints of the spine over time due to their constant loads and other applied forces.
Persistent Inflammation in the joints damages them and they begin to wear down. This allows the vertebrae to begin to push together and grind. This often leads to bones spurs and spinal cord compression.
What is a laminectomy?
As with all of our Coastal Spine patients with chronic back pain, we only perform a laminectomy after various conservative treatment options have been exhausted and the patient still is dealing with debilitating chronic pain. Here’s how it is done:
We make an incision on your back above the affected vertebrae. The muscles over your spine are moved to the sides to expose the spine. We then cut the lamina, which makes up the back side of the vertebrae. This instantly creates more space for the spinal cord and nerve roots, relieving pressure.
If you also have a herniated disc in the same location, a discectomy may be included with the laminectomy. This will remove the herniated portion of the disc.
In most cases, your Coastal Spine surgeon is able to perform a laminectomy using minimally invasive techniques. This involves much shorter incisions, which makes for less pain, blood loss, and an easier recovery.
After your laminectomy
Most patients spend one night in the hospital, but that is not always the case. You will need to limit any bending, stooping, or lifting for several weeks after your laminectomy. Your return to work and other activities will be dependent upon the extent of the procedure.