Seeking comments on lumbar laminotomy decompression surgery.

The spine surgeon recommends MIS.  One sided L5 laminotomy to remove hypertrophy from ligaments and do a discectomy.  He says I'm an excellent candidate and could expect very good results.  Ive been in moderate to severe pain for 8 months and want relief,  just don ' t know what the practical side looks like,  ie recovery,  lingering pain, etc.   Would love to hear others'  experience,  both good and not so good.  


  • Hello,
    I had this procedure done in December. After 7 years of bulging disc pain it finally herniated, fragmented and tangled in my sciatic nerve. So we had to do a L5 discetomy/laminotomy.

    The upside is that the surgery was quick (45 min) and it was not super painful as far as the pain scale goes afterward. It was more achey, stiff and awkward because they cut through your back muscles.

    The downside is that the steroids/medication really took a toll on me the first week. I don't do well with medicine.

    I was A LOT weaker than I thought I would be for a LOT longer than I thought. So in effect a lot slower recovery than you may think. I was warned of this but really didn't believe it. It took a good 4 weeks before I could even think of doing half a day of work on the couch. And that exhausted me.
    Keep in mind I am pretty active. A typical day for me is walking at least 5 miles, training two horses, doing barn chores, taking a spin class or weight lifting and at least 30 minutes of yoga/stretching. So I was no weakling going into the surgery. And it really took me out.
    I was advised no bending or twisting or lifting for 4 weeks or you risk reherniation.  But walk as much as you can. Walking is the best way to heal the remaining disc and prevent scar tissue around the nerve.
    So I walked. By the 5th day after surgery I was walking 3 miles a day. It exhausted me and I did it a little at a time...but I walked. I was terrified of scar tissue on that sciatic nerve.
    Overall, I am no longer in the constant pain I was in for the last 7 years. I am going to physical therapy and trying to regain the full use of my left leg (there was nerve damage from the herniation).
    In was a success for me so far. But of course everyone is different.
    My advice is to listen to your doctor. If he says no bending, twisting or lifting...listen to him 100%.

    Many people end up with a herniation again 4-8 weeks in and have to then have their spine fused. Do not mess around with this. It is serious advice. The disc does not have a blood supply...therefore it takes a while to scar over. In the meantime you can reherniate it very very easily. 
  • Thank you,  your post is very helpful.  Congratulations on your recovery.  I tend to be very active also and I will put your warning 'no bending, lifting or twisting' on my refigerator door,  as a constant reminder! I do have one question: You say back muscles were cut in your procedure but my doctor told me in a laminotomy,  the back  muscles  are moved out of the way with a retractor,  not cut,  thus less pain. So now I'm puzzled.   He told me the back muscles are cut only when you have a laminectomy.  Which did you have?   
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  • I had a laminectomy Feb 7 of this year. I developed a knot under skin at top of incision that is causing tightness in my left side of back. I was walking a mile a day since day 4 post op, but now I'm reluctant. My incision looks good, overall, even though my surgeon's nurse practitioner  checked it today, and said it's nothing to be concerned about, I'm nervous about it. Does anyone think I should rest again tomorrow, or should I continuey walks?
  • Hoping for more comments here. I will be having an L-5 decompression laminectomy in early April.
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