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Back pain is one of the most common reasons for peopleto go to the doctor. Very often, it can be a signal of a serious medicalproblem. At some point, doctor may even suggest surgery.Since back pain mostly affects the adultpopulation, the average age for the surgery is from 40 to 45 years. It is morecommon among men than among women.

Laminectomy or open decompression is a surgical procedureof removing the back part of the vertebra that covers the spinal canal.It may be performed when the abnormality causesspinal nerve root compression that results in leg or arm pain and limitation ofactivity. This procedure is usually done to treat spinal stenosis or spinalarthritis with the aim to relieve the pain caused by such conditions, but itcan also be used to treat various spinal abnormalities. Less common conditionsrequiring laminectomy include a facet cyst, fracture and tumors.

Procedure

The patient will have to have MRI, EKG, andcomplete blood count before the surgery.It is performed with the patient under generalanesthesia, and the patient is usually positioned lying on the side or stomach.The surgeon will make a cut in the middle of the patient’s back or neck. Surgery usually lasts from 1 to 3 hours.After laminectomy, the patient is moved to arecovery room. There is a health care team and it watches the patient in caseof complications from the surgery and anesthesia. The patient should expect tohave some pain at first. Nurses will be there to check vital signs and help with paincontrol. Pain medicine may be given orally or by injection. Most patients will remain in the hospital for oneto three days after the procedure. During this period they will be givenantibiotics, intravenously in most of the case, to prevent infection.

Generally, physical therapy is prescribed to the patients, and it should help them recover from the surgery. Patients themselves can speed their recovery andthey can do that by walking. They should avoid sitting or standing in oneposition for longer period of time. The first few days after the surgery the patientsmay have problems with sleeping because of different sleeping positions.The result depends on the cause of the patient’slower back pain, but most of them can expect considerable relief from pain. Depending on the amount of walking and sitting that thepatient's job involves, probably he will be able to return to work within twoto six weeks. In general, it is a safe procedure, but potentialcomplications include: blood clots, infection, bleeding, nerve damage, spinalfluid leak and unfortunately, worsening of the back pain.

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