Thoracic (Mid Back) Pain Laminectomy

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Laminectomy as a Treatment for Thoracic Pain

At BASIC, a laminectomy is a minimally-invasive surgical procedure most commonly performed to relieve spinal nerve pressure in the mid-back that is being caused by spinal stenosis.

Thoracic Pain Treatment – Laminectomy

When a patient is suffering from severe thoracic pain due to spinal stenosis or other nerve-related condition and is not responding to medications or other conservative treatments, then a spine health expert may recommend a laminectomy. A laminectomy is a decompression surgery to remove the lamina from the vertebrae in order to relieve pressure on surrounding nerves.

Understanding Laminectomy as Treatment for Thoracic Pain

The lamina is the small bony extension located on the back of every vertebra in the spine. It is most noticeable by its two flat bones and its function is to protect the spinal canal. Laminectomy as a thoracic pain treatment is a minimally-invasive decompression surgery allowing removal of the lamina from the vertebrae to enlarge the spinal canal, which then relieves pressure on the nerves in the mid-back with the ultimate goal of thoracic pain relief.

Laminectomy is one surgical treatment option for patients who have tried medications, physical therapy, chiropractic care or epidural steroid injections (or a combination of these therapies) in the past which have failed to provide adequate pain relief. In order for laminectomy to be considered a thoracic pain treatment option, the mid-back pain must be chronic (lasting for at least three months or longer) with complications like radiating pain to, weakness, numbness, and tingling in the extremities. Some patients with severe thoracic pain may experience loss of bowel control, incontinence, or difficulty standing and walking.

The risks associated with a laminectomy are the same as most surgeries: bleeding, infection at incision site, development of blood clots, nerve injury, and spinal fluid leakage. All concerns should be discussed with an experienced and knowledgeable spine surgeon. For many patients experiencing the debilitating effects of chronic thoracic pain, the benefits can outweigh the risks. Of the patients who undergo laminectomies, 70-80 percent report significant improvement in their ability to perform daily activities after surgery.

Laminectomy surgery usually begins with the patient lying face down on the operating table. The patient will be given general anesthesia and sedative to stay comfortably unconscious during the procedure. An incision will be made above the thoracic vertebrae and the muscles gently moved away (minimal invasive surgery) to expose the lamina for removal. Once the lamina has been removed and the spinal canal is confirmed to have more room, the surgeon will gently replace the muscles that were moved away and the incision will be closed. The patient will be taken to recovery and is likely to have a short hospital stay.

After the patient returns home, the recovery process will begin. Depending on the patient’s unique circumstances, for the next few weeks to months, activities should be limited. The patient may want to arrange for someone to stay with them to help during this period. As the strength rebuilds, more regular activities can be restored but each of these steps should be discussed at length with the spine surgeon before engaging in them. Physical therapy is also often needed to build strength, increase range of motion, and to re-learn proper posture as the body heals. Becoming stronger and healing after a laminectomy will improve a patient’s quality of life and usually makes the recuperation period well-worth the effort.

At-a-Glance: Laminectomy as a Treatment for Thoracic Pain

  • Lamina is the spinal process which protects the spinal canal
  • Thoracic Spinal Stenosis can cause mid-back pain and weakness and numbness in the extremities
  • The laminectomy is designed to relieve spinal nerve pressure
  • Significant improvement in pain relief has been reported after a laminectomy.

Health Tips For Laminectomy

  • Arrange for someone to help during recuperation so the patient can rest and recover properly
  • Limit strenuous activity for a few weeks and talk to your surgeon about every activity beforehand
  • Physical therapy will help rebuild strength and range of motion
  • Keep incision site clean and dry to reduce risk of infection

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