When you get told you have a specific condition it is only natural to want to know everything about it. That’s part of what makes the internet so fantastic. You’ll never remember to ask all the right questions when you’re with a spine surgeon. But, by doing your research online first, you’ll be able to go back and ask the questions that really matter to you.
So What Ii Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?
There are 33 individual bones in your spine, they sit on top of each other, providing support for your body and the flexibility to allow you to move in virtually any direction.
Inside the spinal bones is space where the spinal cord lives; this is essential to your ability to move and feel. In an adult, the spine should look like an S from the side.
Unfortunately, if any of the bones in your spine become affected by a disease, or are injured, you’re likely to experience severe pain and difficulty moving.
When the spinal canal starts to narrow it will push against the nerves inside. At first, you’re likely to feel tingling n your extremities, but this can move on to pain or even loss of feeling, the rate of compression will dictate the effects.
The most common symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis are:
- Pain or weakness in your legs and buttocks.
- Leg cramps; generally preventing you from walking more than a short distance.
- Pain down one or both legs often referred to as sciatica.
- Occasionally loss of function in legs.
You may notice that the pain lessens when you bend forward, sit down, or even lie down.
What Causes It?
Unfortunately one of the primary causes is bone degeneration as you age. It can also be caused by your bones overgrowing, injury, or even a disease.
Treating Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
The first step is to try non-surgical options. These will generally start with anti-inflammatory medicines to reduce the swelling and alleviate the pain.
If it is extremely bad you may need an epidural injection.
Physical therapy, including specific exercises, can also improve movement and reduce the pain.
If these don’t help to resolve the issue then you may need to look at surgical options, with your doctor.
The most common surgical procedure is decompressive laminectomy where the roof of the affected vertebrae is removed to create more space in the spinal canal.
However, they may also choose to create an opening in the bone, (laminotomy), widen the nerve root exit, (foraminotomy), remove part of the overgrown bone, (medial facetectomy), or remove the bad disc by operating through the abdomen, (anterior lumbar interbody fusion).
There are several other surgical options but you should discuss these with your doctor before continuing; Surgery can relieve the pain and improve movement. But, there is always a risk with surgery, especially when it is so close to vital parts of your body for moving and feeling. Weigh up the risks carefully before you proceed.