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Lumbar Foraminotomy

What Is Lumbar Foraminotomy?

Lumbar foraminotomy is an effective form of decompression surgery done to relieve pressure on your spinal nerves. The foremost reason to get this procedure is to widen the neuroforamen tunnel, through which nerves pass. The spine surgery is effective for reducing or eliminating many causes of lower back pain, including:

Getting your back checked by New Jersey’s top spine specialists at Premier Brain and Spine is the best way to prevent worsening symptoms. Even when your pain isn’t severe, a visit to any of the ten convenient locations can save you from debilitating consequences. Untreated, lower back pain only gets worse.

Why Do I Need Lumbar Foraminotomy Surgery?

The neuroforamen tunnel forms naturally between the lower and upper vertebrae on either side of your spine, along the entire length of your spine. The neuroforamen tunnel has one job — to act as a passageway where the spinal nerve roots exit the spinal canal.

The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the human body. It’s also the main nerve in your leg, formed from five nerve roots located at the bottom of your spinal cord. When the neuroforamen tunnel narrows, it pinches the sciatic nerve, turning into a condition called sciatica. Stenosis is another condition linked to a narrowing of your spine. This condition may be caused by:

  • Spondylosis, a product of the natural wear and tear of joints, discs and bones as you age
  • Bone spurs, those bony projections that form along the edges of your vertebrae
  • Degenerative disc disease, another age-related wear-and-tear condition that affects the spongy discs between your vertebrae
  • Spondylolisthesis, a condition that develops when a vertebra slips out of place
  • Spinal tumors, which are abnormal tissue growths in or around your spinal cord
  • Cysts, which are benign, fluid-filled sacs that form on tendons or joints in your spine
  • Herniated discs, when the spongy discs found between the vertebra leak its gel-like interior
  • Paget’s disease, a chronic disease that weakens your bones and leads to deformities
  • Dwarfism, a congenital issue that leads to spinal conditions like scoliosis or kyphosis

Am I a Candidate for Lumbar Foraminotomy?

Typically, before suggesting a lumbar foraminotomy, your surgery center doctor offers alternative treatments. You may get a prescription for pain relieving medication, along with recommendations for physical therapy and massage. Epidural injections are another option if your pain is severe.

To be considered a candidate for the lumbar foraminotomy procedure, your NJ ambulatory surgery center doctor considers the success of the conservative treatments to determine if:

  • You got any pain relief after the course of medication
  • Physical therapy gave you any lasting relief/li>
  • The epidural injections worked for any length of time
  • The pain you experience is continual or sporadic
  • Your pain has increased
  • Pain has spread to other parts of your body
  • You feel restricted in your movements
  • You can’t walk or stand properly for long periods of time
  • You feel numbness or tingling sensations in your extremities
  • You feel weaker in one leg
  • You notice changes in your bowel or bladder movements

A spine specialist at a top advanced spine surgery center suggests the lumbar foraminotomy surgery when non-surgical treatments fail to bring you lasting relief.

What Happens During the Lumbar Foraminotomy Procedure?

The severity of your condition, the location of the pinched nerve and coexisting spine problems determine the type of lumbar foraminotomy you need. Your New Jersey ortho specialist may ask you to have x-rays or an MRI beforehand. You may receive lumbar foraminotomy surgery as:

  • Posterior lumbar foraminotomy. This is the traditional form of surgery that involves making the incision in the back or posterior of your lumbar spine.
  • Endoscopic lumbar foraminotomy. This surgery uses an endoscopic device, which is a small tube on which a camera is attached. Images from the camera are displayed on a computer screen, providing your spine surgery specialist a better view of the spinal problem.
  • Minimally invasive foraminotomy. This surgery involves making three to five small incisions, through which the surgery is performed. Specialized tiny tools are used that do minimum damage to the internal structure of your spine.

The process for surgery typically follows certain steps:

  1. You’re put under with general anesthesia after you lie face down on the operating table.
  2. Your surgeon makes the necessary incisions.
  3. Your doctor pushes away your back muscles to reveal your spine structure.
  4. Foraminotomy involves enlarging the hole through which the nerves pass.
  5. When required, you may also need a laminectomy at the same time to remove part of the vertebra.

What Happens After the Lumbar Foraminotomy?

Relief from pain is the first thing you may notice after the surgery. You may be released to go home the same day or need to stay over for a night or two, depending on the type of lumbar foraminotomy you underwent. Movement after the surgery is encouraged, including physical therapy sessions when you’re up to it. Closely follow your doctor’s orders, and within two to four weeks, you may return to your normal activities.

Follow-up appointments with your top spine specialist ensure the results remain positive. While surgical procedures help improve the quality of life for chronic back sufferers, seek help at the first sign of back pain for the best outcome. The minute you feel your back hurting, contact the nearest ortho spine center and book your appointment.

Updated on Jul 27, 2022 by Dr. David Wells-Roth (Neurosurgeon) of Premier Brain & Spine

Premier Brain & Spine
10 Parsonage Rd, Suite 208A
Edison, NJ 08837
(732) 258-0190