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Lumbar Laminectomy Guide & Back Pain Treatment with Back Stretcher

October 30, 2017

Among the different kinds of back pains, lower back pain is the chief culprit in weighing down working adults. Figures show that 80% of the U.S. citizens have experienced some kind of this physical disorder during their lifetime.

About 14% of patients (400,000 US citizens) with low back pain have lumbar spinal stenosis.


Understanding Lumbar Spine Anatomy And Back Pain

The lumbar spine, also known as the lower back, has a key role both in the power and flexibility of the spine. That is why low back pain is so prevalent among people. Statistics suggest that nearly 630 million people suffer from low back pain at any given point in time.

Symptoms Of Lower Back Pain

Lumbar spine anatomy

It is the third major region of the spine that is located inferior to the thoracic spine. It starts about 15 cm below the shoulder blades. Some of the features of the lumbar spine are as follows:

- The lumbar spine consists of 5 vertebrae (L1-L5).
- The backbones and discs are held together by ligaments which connect bone to bone. The ligaments along with tendons help to the stabilization of the spine.
- The function of intervertebral discs in the spinal column is absorbing pressure, distributing stress, and protecting the backbones from grating against each other.
- The spinal facet joints are located on the posterior side of the spine. They help the flexibility of the spine.
- L1-L5 are the largest unfused vertebrae in the spinal column which bear the weight of the entire torso.
- L4-L5 and L5-S1 are the most vulnerable parts of thespine to injury because they bear the most weight.
- The joint between the L5 and sacrum is a crucial part of thespine in rotating movements which lets the pelvis and hips swing while jogging and walking.
- The spinal canal is a vertical hole in the center of the spine where the spinal cord goes through after descending from the base of theskull. At about L1, the spinal cord ends and then a group of nerves (caudaequina), from the spinal cord, continue down and branch off to the lower part of the body. Some of them connect together to form the sciatic nerve, which goes down into the back of each thigh and finally into the feet.

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Lumbar spine pain or simply lower Back Pain

Low back pain can be triggered by a variety of problems with any parts of the interrelated network of bones, muscles, nerves, discs, or tendons in the lumbar spine. A problem with any of these parts may cause lower back pain or in some cases, a referred pain to other parts of the body.

The main causes of low back pain include:

- Back muscle strain: The main culprit in acute low back pains is a back muscle strain. Twisting, lifting heavy loads, repetitive bending, or other sudden movements can lead to muscles stretch resulting in low back pain.

- Degenerated discs: When a lumbar disc begins to break down, it can cause both inflammation and instability in the lower back, resulting in pain, muscle spasms, and sometimes, sciatica.

- Lumbar disc herniation: About 90% of sciatica cases are due to spinal disc herniationthat exert pressure on the lumbar or sacral nerve roots. Discherniation mayoccur suddenly or happen as the result of a chronic process of wear and tear.

- Sciatica: When a bulging disc exerts pressure on the sciatic nerve, sciatica occurs. There are also other causes such as spinal stenosis, infections, tumors, and injuries. The burning pain and/or tingling sensation go along the sciatic nerve, which runs down the legs and feet from the lower back.

- Spondylolisthesis: When a lumbar vertebra (especially of the L5)shifts forward on the sacrum, the condition is called spondylolisthesis.In case the slipped vertebra exerts pressure on the nerve, leg pain is produced.

- Sacroiliac joint dysfunction: Low back pain may occur if there is too much or too little movement in the sacroiliac joints.

- Facet joint osteoarthritis:In this condition, the cartilages between the facet joints broke down which lead to excess friction and the following joint swelling. The condition may develop into apain in the lower back, and eventually cause sciatica.

- Spinal stenosis: The contraction of the spinal canal or the narrowing of nerve root canals can place pressure on the nerves where they come out of the spine. Standing upright elevates pressure on the nerve which leads to a leg pain. 

What is lumbar spinal stenosis?

Most of the patients with lumbar spinal stenosis are over 50 years old. Through the aging process, some degenerative changes occur in the different structures of the spinal column including the discs, bones, muscles, and ligaments. These changes lead to the narrowing of the canal which cause spinal stenosis. In some cases, the spinal nerves in the lower back are impinged by the adjacent affected structures that contribute to lumbar spinal stenosis.

Symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis

Typically, a disabling pain in the legs is the main symptom of this condition, which starts with physical activities such as walking and relieves immediately after rest. The symptoms are often variable, which ranges from severe symptoms to mild or no discomfort. The duration and seriousness of lumbar spinal stenosis differ in individuals. The patient may have sciatica. Claudication (Limping) while walking can be another feature of this condition. The patients may also feel numbness, loss of motor control, fatigue, and tingling that start from the lower back and radiate into the legs.

Causes of lumbar spinal stenosis

Lumbar spinal stenosis is typically connected to aging. The enlarged degenerated facet joints which are located around the backbones, exert pressure on the nerve roots in the lower back. Herniated discs,heredity, traumas, tumors, osteoarthritis, hypertrophy of the ligamentous structures and spondylolisthesis are other factors.

Young adults with a spinal canal curvature or injury may also develop this condition. Standing upright diminishes the spaces of nerve roots and block the blood stream from around the nerve. Therefore, the congested blood begins to hurt the nerve resulting in pain.

Treatment of lumbar spinal stenosis

A lumbar laminectomy or as it is also called an open decompression is the treatment of choice in cases of lumbar spinal stenosis. In this surgical procedure, a small fragment of the backbone over the nerve root and/or the disc under it is removed to free the impinged structures and provide a better healing condition in the area.

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Is Surgical Procedure the Safest Option?

In this surgical procedure, after a 5 to 13 cm incision in the back and dissection of the muscles, the lamina, and irritant facet joints parts are removed to provide more space for the nerve. The operation takes one to three hours. After the surgery, return to normal activity is largely dependent on the patient's condition.

The patient is encouraged to walk but not bend, lift, or twist for 6 weeks. The patient needs to be in the hospital for two days. Usually, the success rate is satisfactory and nearly 75% of the patients with leg pain (sciatica) caused by spinal stenosis will have remarkable progress in their function and a reduction in pain and discomfort.

However, the lower back pain caused by arthritic facet joints is not well treated by performing the surgery. In certain instances that stenosis is at one level from an unstable joint (degenerative spondylolisthesis), the success rate can be improved by also fusing a joint.

Risks and considerations of lumbar laminectomy

The possible risks and complications with open decompression procedure are as follows:

  • Bowel/bladder incontinence
  • Nerve root damage
  • Cerebrospinal fluid leak
  • Infections
  • Bleeding
  • Postoperative instability of the operated level
  • Common surgical complications

However, according to a World Health Organization census in 2001, “most patients who had undergone a lumbar laminectomy recovered normal function within one year of their operation.”

Prevention is the key of NOT getting back pain. Getting the exercises and eating healthy food.

A passive way to stretch your back is by using Back Stretcher. Back pain affects 80% of the people in the world, especially USA and Canada.



Information supplied by the is for educational use only. These articles do NOT make any diagnosis or give medical recommendations. Products at are not intended to cure, heal, or prevent diseases. Consulting with a Doctor is always recommended.

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