Spinal health is certainly an important component to overall bodily health and function.
In fact, the spine has several crucial roles and we rely on it for skeletal support, flexibility of the torso, strength and support for the neck and head and also for the protection of the spinal cord and the nerves that enter and exit it. When something goes wrong in the spine, the whole body suffers.
When the lumbar region of the spine is affected, often the most immediate and noticeable symptom is severe leg pain and weakness. In some cases, especially when spinal stenosis is the cause, posterior lumbar decompression is required to remedy nerve issues in the spine. The lumbar region of the spine is considered the “lower back” area and is made up of five, large vertebrae and the discs that separate them. This particular area of the spine is specifically susceptible to a condition called spinal stenosis.
Posterior Lumbar Decompression for Spinal Stenosis & Spondylolisthesis
The degeneration of the spine that occurs with aging can result in the narrowing of the canal that houses the spinal cord. When this happens, the nerves exiting the spinal column can become “pinched” by the closing space (stenosis) or even by slipped vertebrae (spondylolisthesis). Patients suffering from these conditions may experience some of the following symptoms:
- Pain/weakness in the lower back
- Weakness/fatigue/pain in the legs
- Pain/Numbness in the buttocks or thighs
- Difficulty walking
- Symptoms are worse when walking
- Symptoms are relieved by leaning forward or sitting down
- Loss of balance
- Tingling or burning sensation in the legs
A lumbar decompression and fusion surgery can relieve a patient’s pain by removing the problematic disc or relieving the compressed nerve. During posterior lumbar decompression, a bone graft is then placed in the affected area in order to promote the “welding” together of the healthy bones through the natural healing process. This provides extra support, strength and stability to the damaged area of the spine by reducing the possibility for excessive movement (although it does not prevent the patient from still achieving a high level of flexibility).
Preparing for Surgery to the Lumbar Region of the Spine
The first and most important step in preparing for decompression and fusion procedures of any kind is to identify a highly trained and reliable surgical team to perform your surgery. Fellowship trained specialists, such as those practicing at Rothman Institute, are able to offer the high level of skill and precision that is necessary for optimal results. Patients should be familiar with some of the potential complications of this procedure and should take measures - beginning with the selection of the best surgeon - to minimize their risk of encountering any complications.
Patients should also arrange to have some help at home following the surgery. Following lower back procedures, patients should follow the direction of their surgeon and take the appropriate measures to rest and heal. In the weeks after posterior lumbar decompression, allow family and friends to help by doing household chores, grocery shopping, any heavy lifting, yard work, etc.
If you’re suffering from pain, weakness, tingling or numbness in your lower back, buttocks or legs, you may be experiencing the result of a condition such as spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis or scoliosis. Call Rothman Institute today to set up an appointment. You’ll be able to receive care from one of our top-notch, spinal specialists. The Rothman spine team performs over three thousand procedures each year and provides the highest level of care for patients throughout the greater Philadelphia area. With over 20 regional locations, there is a Rothman facility near you! For more information, please visit us here or contact us at 1-800-321-9999.