Lumbar spinal stenosis is a common cause of low back pain. While the condition sometimes occurs in younger people, it is more often seen in individuals over the age of 50. Wear and tear on the spine as a result of aging and osteoarthritis are contributing factors in its development. Other causes include herniated discs, spinal fractures, bone spurs, spinal trauma, and spinal tumors.
What is lumbar stenosis?
Lumbar stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower part of the spine. The narrowing creates pressure on the spinal cord itself and the nerves coming from the spinal cord. People with lumbar stenosis may have no symptoms in the early stages, but some symptoms will usually develop over time.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis may include the following:
- Low back pain or tenderness that may be relieved by sitting or bending forward. Pain may worsen when standing for long periods.
- Pain, weakness, or numbness in the legs or buttocks
- Numbness, tingling, or loss of sensation in the feet
- Drop foot
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
How is lumbar stenosis diagnosed?
The patient will be given a complete physical examination, and their medical history will be taken. The physician will look for limitations of movement, loss of reflexes in the extremities, and problems with balance. The patient will be asked about their level of pain and what they have tried for relief.
Diagnostic tests may be ordered including x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs. Some patients may have a myelogram. These tests allow the physician to pinpoint areas of concern and rule out other potential problems.
What are the treatment options?
Many cases can be successfully treated without surgery. Rest, pain medications, and anti-inflammatory medications are usually helpful. Physical therapy exercises can help strengthen and stabilize the spine. Epidural steroid injections may be used to treat severe pain.
A decompressive laminectomy can help create more space for the nerves. Herniated discs can be removed to provide more space in the spinal canal. A spinal fusion may be needed to give further stability to the spine. Some of these surgeries can be performed using minimally invasive techniques which reduce trauma, bleeding, and lead to a faster recovery.
The physicians at Atlanta Brain and Spine Care are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of lumbar spinal stenosis. If you suffer from low back pain, contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians,