Arthritis, (bony overgrowth) that occurs in the facet joints can compress single or multiple nerve roots causing spinal claudication, which is the feeling of leg weakness with activity. Essentially, the bony growth blocks blood flow to the nerves, causing heaviness in the legs, ultimately causing the patient to sit down to recover. This can also lead to spinal instability due to the facet joint compromise from the arthritis. These patients may require a more extensive decompressive laminectomy. Some may be unstable, benefiting from a fusion.
Unfortunately, the condition often mimics the pain of arthritis (such as night pain at rest, morning stiffness, and central back pain). The success rate for the procedure runs around 65 - 70%. Many of the patients still suffer postoperatively from their persistent arthritic pain. We try very carefully to select patients with true nerve compression symptoms for this surgery.