What to Expect After Undergoing a Laminectomy

laminectomy is a surgical procedure in which your spinal surgeon removes a portion of one or more of your vertebrae to relieve pressure on the spinal cord. This is performed under general anesthesia.

If you are scheduled for this procedure, you may wonder what to expect after undergoing a laminectomy. Here’s a quick overview.

Immediately following your laminectomy procedure

After the procedure, you’ll be taken to a recovery area where you’ll awake from the anesthesia and undergo observation for several hours to ensure no complications arise. Expect some grogginess and discomfort during this time. As long as everything went well and the doctor clears you, you will be sent home the same day. Otherwise, the doctor may admit you to the hospital for one or more days for further observation and recovery.

In the days after a laminectomy

In the days following surgery, you may be on strong pain medications for a time. Depending on the extent of the surgery, you may need help getting in and out of bed and walking for a few days. However, the doctor may also recommend getting up and walking from time to time, even if it’s uncomfortable, to prevent blood clots from forming due to lack of movement. The doctor may recommend some breathing exercises to prevent respiratory complications after surgery, as well as recommending some ways to move in order to protect your back from further injury while recovering. For several weeks post-surgery, you’ll be asked to curtail or limit activities that require you to bend or lift. You should also keep your incisions clean and change bandages regularly to prevent infection. Your stitches should be removed in approximately two weeks.

Long-term laminectomy recovery

The time it takes to return to normal largely depends on the extent of the surgery, whether there were any complications, and the overall health of the patient. Most people can expect to resume normal light activities within a few weeks, gradually increasing intensity of activity over time. However, if the surgeon also performed a spinal fusion with your laminectomy, expect long-term recovery to take up to 2-4 months on average. While undergoing a laminectomy may disrupt normal life in the short term, most people can experience a full or nearly full recovery within several weeks under a doctor’s watchful eye. Read our post-operative guide to recovering from spine surgery.

For more information on laminectomy and recovery times, call Polaris Spine & Neurosurgery Center today at (404) 256-2633.

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