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Post-Laminectomy Syndrome

Post-laminectomy syndrome is a condition in which a patient continues to experience pain and disability after a laminectomy, a type of spinal surgery. During a laminectomy, a piece of the layer of bone covering the back of the spinal cord (the lamina) is removed to eliminate compression on the spinal nerves. This surgery may be performed in conjunction with other back surgery, such as a discectomy, and is most often performed to relieve stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column. The development of post-laminectomy syndrome is a complication of the procedure. Post-laminectomy syndrome is a type of failed back surgery, a broader category which includes chronic pain following any spinal surgery, including spinal fusion.

Reasons for Post-Laminectomy Syndrome

The condition is characterized by a persistent pain in the back that may also be radicular, radiating into the neck, arms or legs, depending on where the surgery has taken place. Such residual pain may have a number of causes, including:

  • Excessive scar tissue

  • Recurring herniation of a disc

  • Remaining bone fragment at the site

  • Recurring stenosis

  • Bone spurs

Treatments for Post-Laminectomy Syndrome

There are a number of effective treatment methods used to address post-laminectomy syndrome. For patients experiencing severe symptoms, treatment may include:

  • Nerve block injections

  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)

  • Radiofrequency denervation

  • Platelet rich plasma therapy

  • Spinal cord stimulation

Milder cases of post-laminectomy syndrome may be treated successfully with anti-inflammatory medications, certain antidepressants, epidural corticosteroid injections, and physical therapy.

Additional Resources

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