Lumbar spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back, typically due to age-related changes or structural issues. It causes the small spaces between the vertebrae to become constricted, putting pressure on the spinal cord and nerves that travel through the lower back into the legs.
Spinal stenosis is often made worse by conditions such as osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, thickened ligaments, bone spurs, or herniated discs. Other lifestyle risk factors such as smoking, obesity, and even poor posture can also contribute to the development of lumbar spinal stenosis.
Lumbar Stenosis Symptoms:
Common symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis include:
- Pain: Pain may be dull or sharp in the lower balk, and can radiate down into the buttocks and legs. Walking or standing for extended periods may exacerbate the pain, and sitting or leaning forward may offer relief.
- Muscle weakness or calf cramping: Nerve compression may cause muscle weakness or cramping in the calves.
- Numbness and tingling in the affected area: Some people suffering from spinal stenosis may experience numbness or tingling in the legs or feet due to nerve compression.
- Loss of function in legs, bowels and bladder: In rare cases, loss of function in the legs or loss of normal bowel and bladder control may occur.
Video: Stenosis Patient, Hector
Lumbar Stenosis Treatment:
Treatment for lumbar spinal stenosis generally starts with conservative measures and may progress to surgical intervention in more severe cases.
Common non-surgical treatment options include:
- Physical Therapy: Physical therapy is a great option for widening the spinal canal because it can help strengthen muscles, improve flexibility, and correct posture.
- Medications: Medications such as anti-inflammatories or pain relievers like ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen can be used to manage discomfort.
Epidural Steroid Injections: Steroid injections can help reduce inflammation and alleviate more severe pain in the affected area.
With more severe cases, and/or when conservative care options don’t work well enough, it may be time to consider surgery.
Common surgical options include:
- Decompressive Surgery: A laminectomy can be performed to remove a portion of the bone from the impacted area of the spine to help create more space, releasing pressure and offering long-term relief from chronic pain.
- Spinal Fusion: A common procedure that involves permanently fusing vertebrae to inhibit normal movement and minimize pain. It can be used to stabilize the spine after decompression.
Recovering from Lumbar Stenosis:
Recovery from lumbar spinal stenosis treatment varies based on the severity of the symptoms and chosen approach for treatment. With non-surgical treatments, patients may experience symptom relief within a few weeks or months, and it may be part of ongoing management to maintain spine health.
DISC’s spine surgeons take a minimally invasive approach to correcting lumbar spinal stenosis, which causes less trauma to surrounding tissue and results in a shorter recovery period. Since most minimally invasive procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis, patients are usually able to return home the same day of the surgery. Schedule your consultation with a DISC specialist today.
About the author
discmdgroup DISC Sports and Spine Center (DISC) is one of America’s foremost providers of minimally invasive spine procedures and advanced arthroscopic techniques. Our individually picked, highly specialized physicians apply both established and innovative solutions to diagnose, treat, and rehabilitate their patients in a one-stop, multi-disciplinary setting. With a wide range of specialists under one roof, the result is an unmatched continuity of care with more efficiency, less stress for the patient, and a zero MRSA infection rate. Read more articles by discmdgroup.