When a person has a laminectomy surgery, a spine surgeon is essentially freeing up nerve roots that are being pinched. This is either for a disc herniation where the soft disc is pushing on a nerve root, or for spinal stenosis where there may be bone or calcified soft tissue pitching on one or multiple nerve roots.
Usually, a laminectomy surgery is successful at relieving the pain from a pinched nerve. That is, unless post-lumbar laminectomy syndrome occurs, which is a form of failed back surgery. When any surgery is done that creates a void of space, meaning that tissue is removed from the body, the body then wants to fill that void with more tissue. In this case, that tissue is scar tissue.
If the scar tissue that is created by the body envelops the nerve root or roots that was freed up initially, a person’s pain may return from decompressing scar tissue. Unfortunately, there may also be some permanent changes in the nerve root itself from scar tissue that is on the root itself which is called arachnoiditis.
Without going into all of the basic science of what happens with the scar tissue formation, the essential problem may be that a person’s pain returns and maybe intensifies, and there is not a another surgical solution to cure the problem.
This is obviously a very frustrating situation. A person is experiencing the same pain as before, or maybe even worse, and surgery cannot fix this problem. The surgery initially was not done incorrectly, the body simply overreacted and scar tissue forms and damaged the nerve root.
So what are the treatment options when post lumbar laminectomy syndrome occurs?
At times there is an inflammatory component to the scar tissue which can receive some benefit from an epidural injection from time to time. There are also some pain medications which can mitigate the pain including neurogenic modifying agents such as Lyrica and gabapentin (Neurontin). Opiate medications may also be helpful along with some over-the-counter agents like ibuprofen and Tylenol for mild to moderate pain.
Physical therapy can be beneficial by helping strengthen the muscles and stabilize the person’s core, along with chiropractic treatment which may help bring some increased blood flow and oxygen to the area as well. Spinal decompression therapy may offer some benefits for post lumbar laminectomy syndrome with a series of treatments.
The best treatment as a last resort is a spinal cord stimulator. The stimulator can be inserted initially as a trial to see if it’s going to help for about a week. If 50% or more pain relief is achieved, then the final implant can be placed around the spinal cord. Essentially what is going on with the spinal cord stimulator implant is slight electrical impulses are sent into the spinal cord, which modulate the way that the brain receives and perceives pain signals.
Studies have shown that spinal cord stimulator implants for post lumbar laminectomy syndrome work very well, and can really change a persons life. They can decrease the amount of pain medication a person needs, help a person get back to work and play with the kids along with lifting the veil of depression.
If you or a loved one is suffering from post lumbar laminectomy syndrome, call a pain clinic in Florida today. The Florida Pain Network has listings of pain clinics HERE, and the closest ones to you will show up first. There are pain clinics in Orlando, Tampa pain clinics, Ocala pain management clinics and many more.
Or simply call (877) 877-8556 for assistance.