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Post-Laminectomy Syndrome


post-laminectomy syndrome patient talking with doctor

Post-laminectomy syndrome is a condition where the patient suffers from persistent pain in the back following surgery to the back.


A laminectomy is a procedure where a part of the vertebra that protects the spinal-cord is removed. It is usually performed to relieve pressure on the spinal-cord from a protruding disc. Very often, following a laminectomy, patients recover without any complications. However, in a small group of people, back pain and sometimes leg pain may persist following laminectomy. This persistent pain is called post laminectomy syndrome, also sometimes called failed back syndrome.


There are a number of reasons why patients may develop back pain following a laminectomy. The surgery simply may not have had the outcome that was expected. In other cases, patients experience pain because the spinal column itself is narrowed in a condition called spinal stenosis. Sometimes, there may be a small fragment of the disc still remaining following the laminectomy which can irritate the spinal-cord causing pain. In other words, the term post-laminectomy syndrome encompasses any cause that results in back pain following back surgery.


The most common symptom that patients experience is back pain at the site of surgery along with leg pain. As a result of the pain, patients have difficulty performing their activities of daily living and may have difficulty sleeping as well. The longer the pain lasts, the more of an impact it can have on the patient’s lives resulting in depression and anxiety. When examined, patients will still complain of tenderness at the site of surgery. Doctors may notice altered postures and varied positions when walking.

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