Injured workers may have a cervical laminectomy as a result of a traumatic work-related injury or from job duties over time causing spinal stenosis. A laminectomy relieves pressure due to spinal stenosis. In spinal stenosis, herniated or bulging discs, bone spurs and ligaments may press against the spinal cord, leading to a condition called myelopathy. Myelopathy can produce problems with the bowels and bladder, disruptions in the way you walk, and impairments with fine motor skills in the hands. In a laminectomy, a small section of bone covering the back of the spinal cord is removed. To be work-related, a doctor must give an opinion in writing.
Wear and tear on the spine from aging and from repeated stresses and strains at work in physical job duties can cause a spinal disc to begin to collapse. This is the first stage of spinal stenosis. As the space between the vertebrae narrows, the posterior longitudinal ligament that attaches behind the vertebral body may buckle and push against the spinal cord. The degenerative process can also cause bone spurs to develop. When these spurs point into the spinal canal, they squeeze the spinal cord. In a laminectomy, the surgeon removes a section of the lamina bone, the buckled parts of the posterior longitudinal ligament, and the bone spurs, taking pressure off the spinal cord.
Rehabilitation after laminectomy surgery may include outpatient physical therapy. At first, treatments are used to help control pain and inflammation. Ice and electrical stimulation treatments are commonly used to help with these goals. Your therapist may also use massage and other hands-on treatments to ease muscle spasm and pain.
Active treatments are added slowly. These include exercises for improving heart and lung function. Walking, stationary cycling, and arm cycling are ideal cardiovascular exercises. Therapists also teach specific exercises to help tone and control the muscles that stabilize the neck and upper back.
Another therapy, body mechanics, is used to help you develop new movement habits. This training helps you keep your neck in safe positions as you go about your work and daily activities. Then you’ll learn how to keep your neck safe while you lift and carry items and as you begin to do other heavier activities. As your condition improves, your therapist will begin tailoring your program to help prepare you to go back to work. Some patients are not able to go back to a previous job that requires heavy and strenuous tasks. The therapist may recommend and a doctor adopts permanent work-related physical restrictions we can pursue loss of earning capacity and/or vocational retraining claims for workers compensation benefits.
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