Q:

What does the recovery for surgery for severe stenosis of the spine (L-4&5) entail?

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Spinal stenosis surgery patients are discharged after one to three days and undergo physical therapy that involves back strengthening exercises, notes the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Full recovery occurs in two to three months, although some return to their desk jobs within a few days or weeks.

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Patients are also encouraged to walk as soon as possible and may be given a corset or brace to enhance comfort during the recovery period, says the AAOS. Elderly patients who require specialized care may first be transferred from the hospital to a rehabilitation center before going home. Physical therapy after the surgery is individualized and takes into account the patient's health and history. It typically involves performing exercises that help increase and maintain strength, endurance and flexibility of the spinal column.

Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the openings within the spinal column that causes increased pressure on the spinal cord and nerves, which may lead to pain, numbness, muscle weakness and incontenence, according to Mayo Clinic. The two main surgical procedures for treating lumbar spinal stenosis are laminectomy and spinal fusion, according to the AAOS. A decompression laminectomy involves removal of bone spurs and buildup in the spinal canal to free space for the spinal cord and nerves, while spinal fusion surgery entails joining two or more affected vertebrae to enhance spinal column stability, explains the American College of Rheumatology.

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