Home Care after Your Lumbar Decompressive Laminectomy
A lumbar laminectomy is back surgery that relieves pressure off the lumbar and sacral nerve roots. Because of too much bone growth in the lumbar area of the spine, these nerve roots no longer have the room they need. Symptoms may include back or leg aching or pain, not being able to walk very far, and leg numbness or tingling. The surgery takes bone off the sac of nerve roots, giving them the room they need.
What to Expect after Surgery
Do not drive until you are no longer on narcotic pain medicines and you feel comfortable to do so.
Return to Work
You may need to be off work for 2 to 6 weeks. This depends on the type of work you do. Please discuss this with your doctor.
Things to Remember
- Do not sit for long periods of time.
- You can climb stairs; do not overdo it.
- Slowly increase the amount of walking you do. It is better to take more short walks so that you do not get too tired.
After two weeks, you may resume your sex life if you feel comfortable enough to do so.
What to Do for Constipation
You may begin taking a stool softener two days before surgery. Take docusate with senna with at least 8 ounces of water. This will help to prevent constipation. Do not take any fiber or stool softener on the morning of surgery.
When you are ready to go home, take docusate with senna twice a day while you are taking narcotic pain pills. If you do not have a bowel movement within two days or beyond your normal routine, take Milk of Magnesia®(6 teaspoons two to three times a day) until you have a bowel movement. You may eat prunes or drink prune juice instead of taking Milk of Magnesia®. Be sure to drink several 8-ounce glasses of water or juice daily so that your body has enough fluids.
Your incision may be closed with sutures, staples, Steri-Strips®, or Dermabond® skin adhesive. If clothing bothers the incision, please keep a light gauze over it. If not, it can be left uncovered.
- If you have sutures or staples, they will have to be removed in 10-14 days.
- Steri-strips are thin pieces of tape over the incision. They slowly fall off in about 10 days.
The incision should be kept clean and dry. It should be cleaned two times a day with a mixture of half hydrogen peroxide and half saline. Both can be purchased at the drugstore.
- Dermabond® skin adhesive is often used. It works like glue.
- Do not scratch, rub, or pick at the glue.
- Keep a dry bandage over it.
- Do not place tape on the glue.
- Do not soak or scrub your incision. Cover it with plastic wrap before a shower. The Dermabond® must not get wet for the first 5 days.
- After bathing, gently pat dry.
- The adhesive will fall off on its own in about 2-3 weeks.
- Do not put lotions or creams over the Dermabond®.
- The incision should be kept clean and dry. After your shower, pat your incision dry.
- After 5 days, it should be cleaned two times a day with mild soap and water.
- Avoid being exposed to the sun. Do not use tanning beds.
- Do not take tub baths.
Check your incision daily. Call your doctor if you notice any of these signs of infection. This includes:
- Increased redness, swelling, drainage
- Large increase in pain
- Fever greater than 100°F for two readings taken 4 hours apart
Your pain should improve over time. As this happens, you will need less pain pills and can take plain or extra-strength acetaminophen. All pain medicine should be taken with food and at least 8 ounces of water. If you notice an increase in pain, numbness, or weakness, call your doctor.
If you have any questions or concerns please call:
The Neurosurgery Clinic at 608-263-7502
After Hours, Nights and Weekends, this number will connect you with the paging operator. Ask for the neurosurgery resident on call. Give the operator your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.
If you live out of the area, please call 1-800-323-8942.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 08/11/2011
Copyright © 08/11/2011 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5506
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