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Last updated: Oct 6, 2021

Post-Laminectomy Syndrome

After undergoing surgery for back pain, especially if you’ve been dealing with it for several years, it’s frustrating to still be in pain after the procedure. And while acute pain is ordinary for a short period while you recover, chronic pain that continues long after your rehab is undoubtedly unwelcomed. There is something you can do: seek pain management options from a doctor who understands the intricacies of back pain, such as the team you find at New Jersey-based Redefine Healthcare.

thoracic spineAlso known as failed back surgery syndrome, post-laminectomy syndrome refers to the chronic pain you experience after spinal surgery. Since back pain develops from many sources, it’s often difficult to attribute it directly to one.

According to the latest research, post-laminectomy syndrome is relatively common after undergoing back surgery. You can develop lingering discomfort due to arthritis, aging, not following the doctor’s recovery orders strictly, or for any number of other reasons.

Sometimes, bone spurs appear on the back section of your vertebrae, increasing pressure on the spine. A laminectomy, also called decompression surgery, is a specific type of back surgery that involves removing the lamina, part of the vertebra, to relieve spinal pressure. You may develop post-laminectomy syndrome after a laminectomy or any other kind of back surgery. If it happens to you, find relief from a pain management expert.

Post-Laminectomy Syndrome Causes

Since the term post-laminectomy syndrome is often interchangeable with failed back surgery syndrome, you don’t necessarily need to have had a lamina removed to be diagnosed with the condition. Anyone who experiences chronic pain following a failed back surgery can receive the diagnosis at any age or physical condition.

Due to the complex nature of the condition, failed back surgery syndrome does not refer to a single issue. Instead, it refers to a cluster of various possible symptoms.

For instance, following your spinal surgery, you may experience:

  • No change. After a successful procedure, the original pain returns.
  • New problem. Despite successful surgery, a new spinal problem emerges, causing pain.
  • Surgical complications. There may have been nerve damage during the surgery, you may have developed an infection, or your spine didn’t heal correctly. The metal used to fuse your vertebrae may also cause pain.

Opioid Use Complications

Diagnosing the cause of post-laminectomy syndrome becomes even more complicated if you’ve used opioids for long-term pain management. These narcotic pain relievers work by fooling the body’s endocrine system, which detects pain.

Not only do you develop a tolerance to opioids over time, but these drugs also inhibit your ability to produce endorphins naturally. While opioids can be helpful in short-term pain relief, physical debilitation from long-term use is a significant risk.

Post-Laminectomy Syndrome Symptoms

The symptoms of post-laminectomy syndrome may appear throughout your body. Since the failed back surgery usually takes place on the spine, your symptoms most often occur in one or more areas as:

When post-laminectomy syndrome affects your hands and feet, it’s a result of neurologic symptoms. Neurologic pain can take the form of tingling, heat, or cold sensations in the extremities. This discomfort is a result of nerve damage in the spinal column.

Neurologic symptoms can also include loss of strength and feelings of heaviness. In rare cases, you may lose bowel or bladder control. Doctors can sometimes positively identify the nerve or nerve group responsible for the neurologic symptoms, but this isn’t always the case. Your doctor may need to do extensive testing to find the source of your symptoms.

Post-Laminectomy Syndrome Treatment

Suppose you’re suffering from post-laminectomy syndrome. In that case, you need to find the best pain management specialist available, such as one of the experts at Redefine Healthcare in northern New Jersey. Your condition requires a thorough evaluation, including a physical examination and possibly even imaging tests, such as an x-ray or an MRI.

Once diagnosed, your doctor has a wide range of treatment options that may be as simple as rehabilitation through physical therapy. Core stabilizing exercises effectively reduce pain, while stretching and yoga can improve joint mobility.

Treating Severe Post-Laminectomy Syndrome Pain

Severe spinal pain usually requires medical treatments, such as:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication
  • Fluoroscopically guided injections
  • Epidural steroid injections
  • Radiofrequency facet ablation

We may provide treatment of neurological pain from nerve damage in the form of:

  • Surgical removal of a compressing structure, such as bone spurs
  • Anti-convulsant medication
  • Anti-depressants
  • Spinal cord stimulator implant

The research and understanding of post-laminectomy syndrome are continuously evolving. The experts at Redefine Healthcare keep abreast of the most up-to-date treatment techniques. Since every case is unique, you must find a pain management expert who takes the time to evaluate and treat your specific condition appropriately. Contact us today to find out what you need to reduce or eliminate your pain.

This page was published on Oct 9, 2019, modified on Oct 6, 2021 by Dr. Freeman (Pain Management Specialist) of Redefine Healthcare
Dr. Eric D. Freeman, a highly regarded pain specialist

Dr. Eric D. Freeman, a highly regarded pain specialist in New Jersey, is board-certified and fellowship-trained in Interventional Spine and Pain Management and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He is an expert in minimally invasive spinal procedures and non-surgical orthopedic care.

Dr. Freeman is a member of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Interventional Pain Practice Society. In addition, he serves as the Immediate Past President of the New Jersey Society of Interventional Pain Physicians. Dr. Freeman is well-known in the field of pain management as a leading pain management doctor, having been named one of "America's Top Physicians."

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