What Are the Benefits & Risks of Lumbar Decompression Surgery?

There are two ways to decompress the nerve roots of the lumbar spine. The traditional open surgery, which was my only option for patients for 30 years, is very invasive and involves extensive dissection of muscles, removal of bone, ligament, and disc material. This surgery has a long recovery time, has much higher complication and risk profile, and often results in decreasing the spine stability, thus leading to the need of a fusion. The modern alternative is a very minor outpatient surgery that does not involve significant muscle dissection or removal of bone or ligament. There are almost no risks and this surgery actually increases your spine stability, greatly decreasing your risk of a suture fusion.

Minimally invasive lumbar decompression using the new Minuteman device surgery represents a significant advancement in the treatment of severe low back pain, leg pain, numbness, and weakness stemming from spinal issues. The Minuteman surgery offers a promising route to not only alleviating distressing symptoms but also improving overall mobility and quality of life. Patients in Boise who have been suffering from the symptoms of lumbar nerve compression will find significant relief with the expertise and thorough care from Dr. Johans. He performs more Minuteman procedures than any other surgeon in Idaho, with fabulous results reported by previous patients. The Minuteman device is a fantastic alternative for most patients compared to fusion. If you are going to consider getting the Minuteman, you should see Dr. Johans first because:

  • He is the only surgeon in Idaho with extensive experience in traditional surgeries and the wisdom to help you choose the best treatment option, surgical or non-surgical.
  • He would not suggest this surgery be performed at a pain clinic to anyone in his family, and suggests the same for his patients.

Dr. Johans recommends that lumbar fusion should be the very last resort to treating pain, numbness, or tingling in the legs. Patients should always seek the expert opinion of a board certified neurosurgeon to make recommendations and perform any elected surgery. This means that you can trust they will have the experience necessary on the rare occurrence of complications. You should also work with a neurosurgeon who performs the surgery in a hospital, staffed with specialty trained nurses, a certified anesthesiologist, and stocked with all the correct equipment. This will ensure you are getting the best treatment in the safest place possible.

image of a man receiving a consultation for lumbar decompression surgery

Dr. Johans is a Diplomat and Fellow of the American Board of Neurological Surgeons, board certified in Pain Management and is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American Board of Neurological Surgeons. He began his neurosurgical career in 1988 and has been practicing in Boise since 1993. With these credentials, you can trust that Dr. Johans has the specialized knowledge and experience to provide you with an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan.

He is a dedicated family man who is heavily involved in his community, is involved in several hospital boards and committees and takes pride in being a faith-driven person. Dr. Johans has had a 3 level neck fusion and can discuss options from his vast personal experience.

We also work closely with other non-surgeons if necessary so that our patients can access all available resources when making decisions regarding their treatment plans. Additionally, our team is always prompt in responding to inquiries and addressing patients' concerns throughout their recovery process. Reviews on Google and Healthgrades show that many individuals who have sought treatment from Dr. Johans have found success in his treatments while feeling comfortable and supported throughout their experiences at our office.

The Minuteman Lumbar Decompression Procedure: What It Entails

Lumbar decompression surgery with the Minuteman device relieves pressure on the spinal nerves, a common cause of leg pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness. This surgical approach effectively frees up space for the nerve roots, significantly reducing or eliminating leg pain, preventing further weakness and numbness, and enhancing nerve function related to leg mobility. It also can substantially decrease low back pain by reducing the compression of the arthritic posterior facet joints.

One of the remarkable aspects of this surgery is its scalability. It can be performed at a single level or expanded to address issues across the entire lumbar spine. It can not be used at lumbar 5 to first sacral vertabrae. The primary goal is to offload the joints, thereby optimizing the space available for the nerves and, by extension, improving the patient's ability to walk and perform daily activities with minimal discomfort.

The Impact on Leg Pain and Mobility

Patients undergoing lumbar decompression surgery with the Minuteman often report a drastic reduction in leg pain, with many experiencing complete elimination of this debilitating symptom. This outcome can prevent further neurological deficits, such as weakness and numbness, improving and extending the patient's mobility.

However, it's important to understand that while leg function is expected to improve significantly, the surgery's impact on back pain is more complex. Due to the procedure, which involves minimal muscle manipulation, patients may initially experience increased back pain, primarily attributed to the surgical intervention and subsequent healing process.

Traditional Lumbar Decompression Via Laminectomy Recovery and Rehabilitation: Setting Realistic Expectations

In contrast to the Minuteman procedure, recovery from traditional lumbar decompression surgery is a gradual process, with muscle pain persisting for three to six months post-operation. During this period, physical therapy can help facilitate recovery and enhance mobility. It's a healing journey that requires patience, adherence to Dr. Johans’ rehabilitation protocols, and a proactive approach to managing post-surgical pain.

Patients must be aware of the inherent risks associated with any surgical procedure. These include bleeding, infection, stroke, death, cerebrospinal fluid leak, and potential nerve damage, which could result in permanent numbness, tingling, or weakness in the legs. Additionally, there's a possibility that some patients may require further surgical intervention, such as lumbar fusion, in the future.

image of a senior couple looking out onto the ocean

Contact Dr. Johans for Minuteman in Boise

If minuteman is a procedure you're considering, Dr. Johans is here to guide you every step of the way. His commitment is to provide personalized care that aligns with your lifestyle and health objectives.

Reach out directly at (208) 327-5621 or start your journey to recovery by completing our patient questionnaire. Together, we’ll explore the best treatment options for you and your lifestyle.

Patient Questionnaire


When do I need surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

If non-surgical treatments, such as wearing wrist braces and taking anti-inflammatory medication, ha...

View More

What Signs Indicate You Might Need a Cervical Disc Replacement?

Understanding when to consider a cervical disc replacement is vital for individuals suffering from s...

View More

What to Do If You Have Hand Numbness

If you are suffering from numbness in your hands and are looking for a compassionate and experienced...

View More

Common Causes of Neck Pain

The most common causes of neck pain include infection, joint inflammation, and trauma – such as an ...

View More

What is the Recovery Like Between the Various Lumbar Surgical Options?

Undergoing lumbar surgery is a significant decision that can greatly improve quality of life for tho...

View More

What is Life Like After Cervical Disc Replacement?

For many patients contemplating cervical disc replacement, the question of life post-surgery is a si...

View More


Recent Posts