There are approximately 500,000 spinal surgeries performed each year in the United States, and many of them go well. That being said, there are times when discomfort continues or worsens following surgery. If this does happen and it’s more than just normal post-surgery pain, it’s referred to as post-laminectomy syndrome (PLS). Here’s what you need to know about it and what ca be done to prevent and treat PLS.
Post-laminectomy syndrome may occur after you have a laminectomy, which is a procedure involving an arched covering of a spinal bone called the lamina. However, it can happen following any type of spinal surgery, including kyphoplasty surgery. Beverly Hills patients should be aware that PLS affects anywhere from 5 to 20 percent of individuals who have spine-related operations. Even so, reputable surgeons typically do everything possible to minimize post-surgery issues. As for what may cause PLS, common culprits include:
• Scar tissue formation
• Excessively mobile spinal (facet) joints
• Spinal instability
It’s also possible for PLS to be related to patient-specific factors that aren’t directly related to the surgery itself. Issues of this nature may include underlying health complications, anxiety, or depression.
Prevention of post-laminectomy syndrome often starts with having an open, honest discussion with your spine surgeon. This means developing a solid understanding of what you’ll need to do immediately after surgery and as you recover. You may also be asked to take certain steps prior to surgery, such as losing some weight or proactively adjusting lifestyle habits.
Managing your physical and mental expectations ahead of time can be equally beneficial. With prevention, it’s just as important to get an accurate diagnosis prior to having surgery. This is essential, since you’ll be more likely to experience PLS if the procedure you have is only treating symptoms and not the actual source of your discomfort.
Treatment for PLS will depend on why post-surgery discomfort is continuing. For instance, if the reason for post-laminectomy syndrome is misaligned or slipped spinal hardware or a failure to treat the true source of the issue, a second procedure may be the most effective remedy. On the other hand, if the issue is a nerve that’s irritated or impinged, you may benefit from nonsurgical treatments. Options of this nature could include:
• Targeted physical therapy
• Pain-relieving and/or anti-inflammatory medications
• Massage therapy or similar techniques that focus on tissue around nerves
If you have concerns about whether or not surgery will provide the level of relief you’re expecting, it’s perfectly fine to get a second or even third opinion. By doing so, you may find a spine specialist who offers nonsurgical options you haven’t yet considered. Should surgery end up being your best option, share any worries you may have before making a final decision about a surgical procedure.
Patients requiring spinal surgery can reach out to spinal health experts at The Spine Institute to get a second opinion, ask questions about a specific surgical procedure, or request an in-person consultation with a Beverly Hills spine surgeon with years of experience performing all types of spine-related surgical procedures. Call (310) 828-7757 today to schedule an appointment.