Preventing & Treating Post-Laminectomy Syndrome

Category: Spine, Spine Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi

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More than half a million spinal surgeries are performed each year in the US, and while surgeons do everything in their power to ensure the operation is a success, it’s inevitable that some patients will still deal with spine pain after their operation is complete. When this happens, it’s often referred to as post-laminectomy syndrome. Below, we take a closer look at this condition and how surgeons work to prevent it and treat it.

What Is Post-Laminectomy Syndrome?

Post-laminectomy syndrome is the term used to describe patients who still experience back pain or disability after they’ve undergone a corrective procedure. You may have heard of the condition by another name – failed back syndrome – but sometimes PLS is used even if the original procedure was not a laminectomy. Statistics suggest that anywhere from 5-20 percent of patients who undergo a spinal procedure end up dealing with post-laminectomy syndrome, but we work hard to keep those numbers much lower at our clinic.

Before we dive into some prevention and treatment options, let’s take a closer look at why PLS develops in the first place. Some of the most common causes or factors that contribute to post-laminectomy syndrome include:

  • Scar tissue development
  • Facet joint hypermobility
  • Spinal instability
  • Underlying problem not addressed during surgery

Post-laminectomy syndrome can also develop for a variety of reasons unrelated to the physical trauma of surgery. For example, such factors that could lead to continued pain after surgery include underlying health complications (diabetes, heart disease, etc.), anxiety, stress, depression or sleep problems.

Preventing and Treating PLS

Preventing post-laminectomy pain involves a coordinated effort from both the patient and provider. It begins with a thorough review of the patient’s medical records and accounting for all potential risk factors. Next, we sit down with the patient to answer any questions they might have, we discuss what all goes into the operation and recovery, and we ensure goals remain attainable so that you’re not discouraged if you don’t see results right away. Managing physical and mental expectations key to preventing certain risk factors to post-laminectomy syndrome.

Other ways we work to prevent post-laminectomy syndrome is by ensuring that the operation actually treats the root cause of pain. If a diagnosis is incorrect and the procedure only addresses the symptoms, not the underlying cause, it’s unlikely that the patient will find true relief. During surgery, we also use specialized tools to ensure hardware placement is precisely where it needs to be so that potential hardware problems are minimized.

As far treatment for PLS goes, it really boils down to what caused your spinal procedure to fail in the first place. If the root cause of pain wasn’t addressed or hardware failed, a secondary surgery may be necessary. However, if nerve entrapment from scar tissue development or spinal instability are to blame, sometimes these issues can be treated with a little targeted physical therapy and pain medications. The only way to ensure your post-laminectomy syndrome is properly addressed is to visit a specialist and get to the bottom of your pain.

So if you are looking for a second opinion prior to surgery to help prevent PLS, or you’re still having pain after a procedure with another provider, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office to see how we can help. We have successfully treated countless patients with failed surgery syndrome, and we can help you finally find back pain relief. For more information, contact our office today.

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