Numbness and Weakness After Spinal Stenosis Surgery

I had surgery for spinal stenosis six months ago. I suppose I should be thankful that my back pain is all gone. I can walk now without stopping every few feet. I do have some residual numbness and weakness on that side that I'm not happy about. Is there anything that can be done about this?

When conservative measures fail with spinal stenosis, surgery may be the next step. Stenosis refers to a narrowing of the spinal canal. Congenital narrowing, combined with degenerative changes that come with aging, often bring on painful symptoms.

Conservative care is always the first line of treatment. Rest, antiinflammatory drugs, and steroid injections often work well. But when nonoperative care doesn't change the symptoms, then decompressive surgery is considered.

In this operation, a portion of the bone around the spinal cord is removed. This takes the pressure off the spinal cord or spinal nerves. But sometimes the neural structures were pinched long enough and hard enough before surgery that there is some loss in sensory and/or motor control.

This may be temporary or permanent. Nerve tissue can heal but it's a very slow process. Time can help resolve these final symptoms without further surgery. In some cases, a rehab program may also be beneficial.

Francesco Costa, MD, et al. Degenerative Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: Analysis of Results in a Series of 374 Patients Treated With Unilateral Laminotomy for Bilateral Microdecompression. In Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. December 2007. Vol. 7. No. 6. Pp. 579-586.

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