Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on October 01, 2014
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Mayo Clinic. USC Center for Spinal Surgery. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Medline Plus.
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Narrator: Your spinal cord starts at the base of your brain and ends in the LOWER region of your spine. A column of bones, called vertebrae, protects your spinal cord from injury. Spinal stenosis occurs when there is narrowing of your spinal canal, compressing spinal nerves and causing pain, numbness, and muscle weakness most often in the arms or legs For spinal stenosis of the lower spine, your doctor may recommend a lumbar laminectomy, where your surgeon will remove a part of your vertebrae called the lamina to give more room for the spinal cord and nerves. The goal is to relieve the pain and discomfort of spinal stenosis. During a lumbar laminectomy, your surgeon will make an incision in your lower back, pulling your muscles aside to expose the spine. Then, your surgeon will remove bone and bone spurs that are pressing onto nerves in the area, and will also cut away thickened ligaments to decompress the area . In some cases, spinal fusion may be necessary to stabilize vertebrae in the treated section. In a lengthy operation, surgeons use bone and metal implants to hold vertebrae together while new bone grows . After ensuring your nerves are free from compression, your surgeon will close your incision.