Lumbar Laminectomy for Sciatica

Some cases of sciatica can be relieved with nonsurgical treatment.  Other instances are so serious they require surgical intervention.

Fitness Expert Mackie Shilstone’s sciatica became aggravated after training tennis star Serena Williams for the U.S. Open. He turned to the Culicchia Spine Team for relief, including Dr. Stephen Rynick, for a lumbar epidural steroid injection. He wrote about his treatment in his weekly column on nola.com.  “My pain, originating on the left outer hip then migrating to the mid-thigh and lateral calf, followed this exact path and was originally thought to be a hip bursitis — the product of the plyometric jumping we did to increase Williams’ acceleration to the ball,” he wrote.

Although getting some relief from injections, the pain surfaced again. Shilstone opted for surgery with Culicchia Neurosurgeon John Steck, who performed a minimally invasive, partial lumbar  (L4/5) laminectomy – a surgery that creates space by removing the lamina — the back part of a vertebra that covers your spinal canal. In Shilstone’s case, it was only to be performed on the left lamina – the source of the leg pain.

Also known as decompression surgery, laminectomy enlarges the spinal canal to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerves.

The one-hour procedure, performed under general anesthetic at West Jefferson Medical Center, involved a small incision over the affected vertebrae. The surgeon moves the muscles away from the spine, without cutting them in my case. Using small instruments, the surgeon then removes the appropriate lamina. Dr. Steck also removed some scar tissue around the nerve.

“Recovery was quick,” Shilstone said. “I was able to walk immediately without pain, other than some discomfort from the incision site – which didn’t require any pain medication.”

Watch Mackie Shilstone discuss his procedure on WWL-TV.