How To Recover from a Lumbar Laminectomy

A lumbar laminectomy is a surgery that is performed when one suffers from lower back pain that grows progressively worse so that the person can hardly move or work. One of the main causes of lower back pain is a herniated disk, medically known as sciatica, that causes the pain to extend from the buttocks to one or both of your legs. Laminectomy is the procedure to remove most of the bony arch, also called lamina of a person’s vertebra.

Your recovery depends on the condition of your body before and after the surgery, other medical conditions that you may have and your age. The following are the steps to take to recover from lumbar laminectomy.

  1. After you have been released from the hospital when your condition becomes stable, you can continue your post-operative recovery at home. For the first six weeks you are not allowed to bend or twist your body. You should refrain from lifting heavy loads. The maximum weight you should lift is one liter. You are allowed to sit for short periods of time as long as you feel no discomfort.
  2. You will have to wear a lower back brace for up to five months following surgery. While in the hospital you should learn to remove and put on the brace and how to transfer from the bed to a chair and how to effectively take a shower and use the toilet. You should also learn how to use a walker and go up stairs without bending your spine. The therapist will show you how to reduce the swelling and control the pain with the application of cold and heat packs.
  3. During the initial phase of your recovery, the pain may return to your legs. You can remedy this by taking a prescribed muscle relaxant, pain reliever or an anti-inflammatory medicine. As you grow stronger and move more, you may feel some general soreness because of the increased amount of activity that you do. Rest when you need it.
  4. The wound should not be allowed to get wet. Clean and dry the wound and change the dressing every two days. Generally the wound should be kept covered for five days after the operation and for a few days after the sutures have been removed. Sutures can be removed one week after the surgery. You need to have a doctor or a nurse remove the sutures and dress the wound. If the wound becomes very red and there is some wound weeping, visit your doctor.
  5. Do not sit on the bed during the initial phase of your recovery as this causes your back to bend. You should only use the bed to sleep in. Put a flat board under the mattress is if is too soft to support your back and keep it straighter.
  6. Wear comfortable and loose clothes that will not rub against the wound. Use slip on footwear and deck shoes that are easy to wear and remove.
  7. Learn how to roll out of bed by bending your knees and crossing your arms over your chest. Roll to the side and bring your legs down and plant your feet firmly on the floor. Use your arm to push your upper body upright and use the muscles on your legs to push your body to stand up.
  8. Sit on a firm straight backed chair. The couch will not provide the firm support that your back needs. It will help if the chair has arms and the height can be adjusted. Sit down for a maximum of 15 minutes and then stand up and move about. Use the chair’s arms to push yourself up or your legs to move you to a standing position. Avoid bending your spine when you stand up.

Expect that the recovery period after lumbar laminectomy can last up to six months. Accept the fact the recovery will be somewhat slow-paced. Seek the help of a physical therapist for recommended exercises that you can do to strengthen your abdominal and back muscles.


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