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For a number of reasons your spinal canal can narrow putting pressure on nerves within the canal or where they leave the spine between your vertebrae. This is called spinal stenosis. Symptoms can include pain and weakness in your legs.

If you have only mild symptoms you may not need any treatment. If you have pain down your leg that is caused by pressure on a nerve in your lower back (sciatica) your consultant may recommend an epidural injection. If your pain is severe or it continues for several months your consultant may recommend a laminectomy.

You will usually have an MRI scan to confirm the diagnosis and help your surgeon to plan your operation.

What happens during a laminectomy?

A laminectomy is usually done under general anaesthetic and takes between one and three hours.

Your surgeon will make a cut in the centre of your back. They will remove enough bone and tissue from the back of your spine to free the trapped nerves. In some cases your surgeon may need to join the bones using a bone graft. If your surgeon feels your spine may be unstable they will use metal screws and rods to permanently connect two or more of your vertebrae together (spinal fusion).

After a laminectomy

Immediately after your surgery you will be taken to the recovery area. Staff will monitor your blood pressure, heart rate and breathing. If you are in any pain be sure and tell the recovery room staff. When you are stable a nurse will take you to your room.

Once you are back in your room, our nursing team will continue to check on you to make sure you are recovering well. After you’ve recovered from any effects of the anaesthetic, you can have something to eat and drink. Be sure and tell us if you are in any pain.

Some patients have difficulty passing urine after a laminectomy. If you are in any discomfort please tell a member of our Healthcare Team.

You will be encouraged to get up and move around as soon as possible - usually within 24 hours of your operation. Please wait for a member of our Healthcare Team to help you out of bed for the first time.

A physiotherapist will visit you to advise you on any restrictions and give you exercises to help you regain mobility. You may be advised to avoid bending, twisting or lifting anything heavy for the first six weeks following surgery.

Going home after a laminectomy

Your length of stay in hospital will depend on the level of surgery you needed. Patients who have a simple laminectomy with no fusion may go home the day after surgery. If you had spinal fusion your stay may be longer. Any stitches or staples will be removed 10 - 14 days after your operation.

You will not be able to drive or return to work until you are released to do so at your follow-up appointment with your consultant. Please arrange for someone to take you home on the day of your discharge.

You may feel very tired and sore for the first few weeks. It is important to rest and allow your body to heal.

You will be encouraged to walk during your recovery. Start with short distances and build up slowly. Avoid sitting for long periods. Keeping mobile will help you to avoid DVT (deep vein thrombosis).

Most people make a good recovery and return to normal activities follow a laminectomy. As with any surgery there can be complications:

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Unsightly scarring
  • Blood clots
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Chest infection
  • Heart attack or stroke

Specific complications of laminectomy:

  • Continued pain or numbness
  • Numbness between your legs, loss of normal bowel and bladder control and, in men, problems having an erection
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Tear of the thin membrane that covers the nerves in your spine
  • Infection in the spine
  • Spinal instability.
Find your nearest hospital that provides this treatment
Bournemouth  

67 Lansdowne Road, Bournemouth, BH1 1RW

01202 291866
Overall rating View rating
Brentwood  

Shenfield Road, Brentwood, CM15 8EH

01277 695695
Overall rating Good
Brighton  

Warren Road, Brighton, BN2 6DX

01273 624 488
Overall rating Good
Bristol  

3 Clifton Hill, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 1BN

0117 906 4870
Overall rating Good
Cardiff and Vale  

Cardiff Bay Hospital, Dunleavy Drive, Cardiff, CF11 0SN

02920 836700
Chester  

Wrexham Road, Chester, CH4 7QP

01244 680 444
Overall rating Good
Chichester  

78 Broyle Road, Chichester, PO19 6WB

01243 530600
Overall rating Good
Derby  

Rykneld Road, Derby, DE23 4SN

01332 540100
Overall rating Good
Exeter  

Wonford Road, Exeter, EX2 4UG

01392 276 591
Overall rating Good
Glasgow  

25 Beaconsfield Road, Glasgow, G12 0PJ

0141 334 9441
Guildford  

Stirling Road, Guildford, GU2 7RF

01483 555 800
Overall rating Good
Haywards Heath  

Burrell Road, Haywards Heath, RH16 1UD

01444 456999
Overall rating Good
Hereford  

Venns Lane, Hereford, HR1 1DF

01432 355 131
Overall rating Good
Ipswich  

Foxhall Road, Ipswich, IP4 5SW

01473 279100
Overall rating Good
Leeds  

2 Leighton Street, Leeds, LS1 3EB

0113 388 2111
Overall rating Outstanding
Newcastle upon Tyne  

Clayton Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE2 1JP

01912 816 131
Overall rating Good
North Staffordshire  

Clayton Road, Newcastle-under-Lyme, ST5 4DB

01782 382551
Overall rating Good
Oxford  

Beech Road, Headington, Oxford, OX3 7RP

01865 307777
Overall rating Good
Plymouth  

Derriford Road, Plymouth, PL6 8BG

01752 775 861
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Taunton  

Staplegrove Elm, Taunton, TA2 6AN

01823 286 991
Overall rating Good
Tees  

Junction Road, Norton, Stockton on Tees, TS20 1PX

01642 360 100
Overall rating Outstanding
Warwickshire  

The Chase, Old Milverton Lane, Leamington Spa, CV32 6RW

01926 427971
Overall rating Good
Wessex  

Winchester Road, Chandlers Ford, Eastleigh, SO53 2DW

02380 266 377
Overall rating Good
Woking  

Shores Road, Woking, GU21 4BY

01483 227800
Overall rating Good
Wolverhampton  

Wood Road, Tettenhall, Wolverhampton, WV6 8LE

01902 793 269
Overall rating Good
York  

Haxby Road, York, YO31 8TA

01904 715 000
Overall rating Good

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