LUMBAR SPINAL STENOSIS: WHAT IS IT AND HOW CAN IT BE TREATED?
July 9,2016 by: Luis Manuel Tumialan MD
Spinal stenosis refers to a narrowing of the open spaces of a person's spine, particularly the spinal canal. When this happens, it can pinch nerves, resulting in pain, discomfort, impaired movement, and issues moving your limbs. Spinal stenosis most commonly occurs in the lumbar region (the lower back) and the cervical region (the neck). In either case, it's important to seek treatment to restore wellness, mobility, and strength to your back and extremities.
Causes of Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis is most commonly related to the natural aging process, particularly the way that the spine is affected by long-term wear and tear. Osteoarthritis is also a common causes of spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is common among people age 50 and older.
In addition, previous injuries to the back can, with time, cause abnormal bone spurs and other problematic growths that result in or contribute to spinal stenosis.
Risk Factors for Spinal Stenosis
In addition to advanced age and osteoarthritis, the following are common risk factors for developing spinal stenosis:
- Herniated discs
- Thickening of the ligaments
- Tumors and growths of the spine
- Hereditary issues with narrow spinal canal
Signs and Symptoms of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
The most common signs and symptoms of spinal stenosis include the following:
- Back pain
- Leg pain
- Cramping in the legs
- Discomfort when sitting
- Discomfort when walking
Given the weight commonly supported by the lower back, it's important that patients visit a doctor about these matters if they become frequent. This will allow for proper diagnosis and proper therapies to address the condition.
Non-Surgical Treatments for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
Non-surgical treatments for spinal stenosis will be recommended when your condition does not warrant or require surgical treatment. Working conservatively like this can be a helpful way of preventing unnecessary surgical intervention.
Some potential treatment options that do not require surgery include:
- Medications – Pain relievers and drugs designed to reduce inflammation can help alleviate pain and restore comfort associated with spinal stenosis. This includes anti-inflammtory drugs, muscle relaxants, and pain killers.
- Steroid Injections – Corticosteroid injections to the back can do a great deal to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. A few injections each year may be recommended depending on the patient's needs.
- Physical Therapy – Physical therapy and proper core and flexibility exercises will help address issues with muscle weakness that may contribute to your spinal stenosis.
Surgical treatments for spinal stenosis will focus on relieving pressure on the spinal cord and nerves to reduce pain and issues with the extremities. The procedures typically focus on adjusting the lamina, which is the back portion of a vertebrea. Some examples of these surgeries include:
- Laminectomy – This procedure involves the removal of the lamina, and often the fusion of the affected vertebrae with an adjacent vertebrae.
- Laminotomy – This procedure involve the removal of just part of the lamina, which can relieve pressure on the nerves and the affected portion of the spinal cord.
Learn More About Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
For more information about lumbar spinal stenosis and how it can be effectively treated, be sure to contact our neck, back, and spinal surgery center today. We will work closely with you to ensure improved health and wellness and a restoration of flexibility and mobility.
If you are struggling with pain, weakness, loss of function, or other symptoms of spinal complications, contact Dr. Tumialán's office today.