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A laminectomy is surgery to take out the bony arches (lamina) of one or more of the vertebrae in your spine. This surgery can help to relieve pressure on your spinal cord or nerves.


Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
  • You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.
  • You cough up blood.
  • You cannot feel or move your legs.
  • You cannot control when you urinate or have a bowel movement.
  • You see any clear drainage on your skin or bandage that came from your incision.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • There is a bulge in your incision site.
  • You have regular headaches.
  • Your stitches or staples are swollen, red, or have pus coming from them.
  • Your stitches or staples come apart.
  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • Your pain is worse even after you take pain medicine.
  • You feel weak, numb, or have pain in your back, buttocks, or legs.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Pain medicine may be given. Ask how to take this medicine safely.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Physical therapy:

A physical therapist teaches you exercises to make your back muscles stronger and decrease your pain. He can also teach you safe ways to bend, lift, sit, and stand.


You may feel like resting more after surgery. Slowly start to do more each day. Rest when you feel it is needed. For 1 to 2 weeks, limit the times you walk up and down stairs to once a day, if possible. Ask when you can return to your regular activities.

Movement guidelines:

  • Do not lift heavy objects , such as groceries or baskets of laundry for the first 2 weeks. Do not lift anything over your head.
  • Do not bend at the hips. Bend your knees and keep your back straight when you pick things up off the floor.
  • Do not twist at the waist.
  • Sleep on a firm mattress. When you lie on your back, place 2 or 3 pillows under your knees and the lower part of your legs to raise them. When you lie on your side, bend your knees and use a small pillow under your head and neck. This will decrease the strain on your shoulders, neck and arms. Do not lie on your stomach.
  • Do not sit for more than 15 to 20 minutes at a time for the first 3 weeks after surgery. Sit in a firm chair with a straight back. Keep your feet on a stool and keep your knees bent and slightly higher than your hips.

Wound care:

Carefully wash the wound with soap and water. Dry the area and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your bandages when they get wet or dirty.


Apply heat on your wound for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed. Heat helps decrease pain and muscle spasms.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Laminectomy (Discharge Care)

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