Post-Laminectomy Syndrome

If you underwent back surgery and it did not work, you could be experiencing post laminectomy syndrome which is also known as failed back syndrome. Unfortunately, post-laminectomy syndrome may result in different symptoms, so a correct diagnosis is crucial.

What may appear as post-laminectomy syndrome following a surgery may actually result from a surgical complication or from a new back issue. A knowledgeable spine doctor could determine the right diagnosis so that you receive the right treatment for your pain.

Why Post Laminectomy Syndrome Occurs

Laminectomies are generally performed to relieve pressure on the spinal cord resulting from a bulging, herniated disc. This relief is often obtained by removing part of the vertebrae protecting the spinal cord. Most patients recover well from this procedure, but for a small percentage, the pain persists after surgery, developing into post-laminectomy syndrome.

Post-laminectomy syndrome may develop for several reasons. Often, the spinal nerve root is decompressed by the operation and does not recover properly, causing chronic pain. Scar formation during healing, known as fibrosis, may involve the nerve roots, again leading to chronic pain. Any sort of nerve damage due to the surgery could potentially result in chronic pain.

Other causes of post-laminectomy syndrome may include continued disc herniation or pelvic ligament instability after the surgery. If the patient underwent a spinal fusion, the spine may undergo structural changes above or beneath the site. There is also the possibility that the surgery did not target the actual cause of the patient’s back pain.

Symptoms of This Condition

Patients with post-laminectomy syndrome may experience persistent back and leg pain following the surgery. Many patients may have problems sleeping due to the pain, and the pain could interfere with work and other daily life activities.

Pain often ranges from the dull and aching to the sharp, stabbing pain of sciatica. Depression and anxiety often accompany the pain of post-laminectomy syndrome. Weakness in the affected area is another common symptom. Patients who smoke are often more likely to develop post-laminectomy syndrome than non-smokers.

Treatment Options

A doctor generally will perform a physical examination and may conduct thorough diagnostic testing to determine the actual cause of the patient’s pain. These tests may include X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and electromyograms. These tests typically should show whether there are any outstanding spinal issues causing the pain.

Treatment for post-laminectomy syndrome often includes physical therapy and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain relief. Some patients may benefit from anti-depressants or anti-seizure medications, which may lessen nerve pain.

Epidural corticosteroid injections may relieve pain for weeks or months. If the patient does not find relief, a spinal cord stimulator could be another treatment option. This is a non-invasive procedure that may aid in pain relief, one common stimulator is a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS). With TENS, a low voltage electric current is used to help with pain relief. The device is generally not suitable for those with a pacemaker.

Once surgically implanted, the spinal cord stimulator could replace the pain signals coming from the nerves with a more tolerable buzzing feeling. The stimulator is first placed temporarily, but if the patient’s pain is relieved, it is possible to install the stimulator permanently.

Learn More About Post-Laminectomy Syndrome From an Experienced Doctor

If you or a loved one are experiencing back pain after surgery, you may be suffering from post-laminectomy syndrome. As a result, you may need the services of an experienced spine doctor. They could help determine the cause of your pain and create a treatment plan to help you return to a pain free life. Call today to learn more.