Lumbar Spinal Stenosis, Southlake, TX at the lower back consists of five vertebrae that are located between the ribs and the pelvis.
Over time, the spinal canal slowly begins to narrow. The narrowing of the spinal canal compresses the nerves that travel through the lower back into your legs. This condition is known as Lumbar spinal stenosis.
Lumbar spinal stenosis may affect younger people but it is most common in older people who are age 60 and older.
There are different causes of lumbar spinal stenosis. Some certain conditions can contribute to the narrowing of the central canal including herniated disc, and bone spurs.
Some people with spinal stenosis may not experience any symptoms and they will not know that they have the condition. Some other people may experience symptoms such as pain, tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness.
Symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis vary depending on which nerves are affected. Symptoms may get worse over time.
Common symptoms include:
- Tingling or numbness in the foot or leg
- Weakness in the foot or leg
- Pain or cramping in one or both legs. You mostly feel the pain when you walk or stand for long periods of time.
- Pain in one or both legs that usually eases when you bend forward or sit
- Back pain
- Pain radiating into one or both thighs
There are different causes of lumbar spinal stenosis. These include:
Cracks in your disk may cause some of the inner material to bulge out and press against the spinal cord or nerves.
Overgrowth of bone (Bone spurs)
Osteoarthritis on your spinal bones can cause the formation of bone spurs. Bone spurs can grow into the spinal canal.
The ligaments that help hold the bones of your spine together can become thickened over time. These thickened ligaments can bulge out and get into the spinal canal.
Accidents and trauma can fracture or dislocates one or more vertebrae, resulting in the damage of your spinal canal.
Abnormal growths or tumors that form inside your spinal cord, within the membranes that cover your spinal cord or in the space between your spinal cord and vertebrae can cause lumbar spinal stenosis.
Car accidents and other trauma can cause dislocations or fractures of one or more vertebrae. Displaced bone from a spinal fracture may damage the contents of the spinal canal.
Surgical side effect
Immediately after undergoing back surgery, the nearby tissue may swell and put pressure on the spinal cord and nerves.
During diagnosis for spinal stenosis, your doctor may want to know about the signs and symptoms that you are experiencing. Your doctor may also review your medical history and conduct a physical examination.
You may also need to undergo several imaging tests to help determine the exact cause and the affected area. The imaging tests that you may undergo include X-ray, MRI, or CT scan.
Treatments for lumbar spinal stenosis
Treatment for lumbar spinal stenosis depends on the severity and location of the stenosis.
There are different types of medications that you can use for lumbar spinal stenosis. These include:
Pain relievers such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen may be used to temporarily ease pain and discomfort of lumbar spinal stenosis.
Tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline, can also help ease chronic pain associated with lumbar spinal stenosis
Some types of anti-seizure medications such as gabapentin and pregabalin can be used to relieve pain associated with nerve damage.
Opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone may be useful for short-term lumbar spinal stenosis pain relief. Opioids are not recommended to be taken for a long period of time as they could become addictive.
Injecting corticosteroids into the area where you feel pain can help reduce inflammation and numb the pain. It is important to know that corticosteroid injections don’t work for everyone and having the injections repeatedly can weaken nearby bones and connective tissues. For these reasons, it is not recommended to have corticosteroids injections for a long period of time.
This procedure is done only if you have a thickened ligament. It involves using a needle-like instrument to remove a portion of a thickened ligament at the back of your spinal column. The aim of this procedure is to increase the space in your spinal canal and also remove nerve root impingement.
Engaging in some form of exercise that helps build up your strength and endurance, maintain the flexibility and stability of your spine, improve your balance can help improve your condition.
Surgery may be considered in severe conditions and if your condition is not responding to other conservative treatments. The aim of surgery is to relieve the pressure on your spinal cord or nerve roots.
Surgical procedures for lumbar spinal stenosis include laminectomy, laminoplasty, laminotomy, and spinal fusion.
Is Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Serious?
Lumbar spinal stenosis is a progressive condition that if not treated on time could get worse. If lumbar spinal stenosis is left untreated, the narrowing of the spinal canal could get worse. The compression on the nerves can lead to increased weakness and pain. You may even lose the function of your legs.
What is the best treatment for lumbar spinal stenosis?
The severity of your condition will determine the best treatment to be used. If you are experiencing minor or increasing pain, taking anti-inflammatory pain medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen can help relieve the pain. If you still don’t feel relief, your doctor may recommend corticosteroids injections. Corticosteroids injection works directly on the nerve transmitting the pain and reduces inflammation. You may feel immediate pain relief after having corticosteroids injection.
Is walking good for spinal stenosis?
Walking is a suitable exercise for spinal stenosis. It helps to relieve pressure on your spinal cord and also increases flexibility. It also helps to relieve the right muscles that pull the spine.
What happens if you let spinal stenosis go untreated?
If spinal stenosis is left untreated, it can lead to increased pain and weakness. Severe cases can lead to loss of function of your legs (paralysis) and ultimately death.