Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

 

What is lumbar spinal stenosis?

Lumbar spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back known as the lumbar area. This usually happens when bone and/or tissue grow in the openings within the spinal bones thus squeezing and irritating nerves that branch out from the spinal cord. It is most often caused by changes that occur as people age. 

What are the symptoms?

While most people aren’t severely disabled, lumbar spinal stenosis can cause pain, numbness or weakness, most often in the legs, feet and buttocks. In severe cases, it may cause loss of bladder and bowel control. Symptoms may be severe at times and less severe at other times. For example, pain may worsen when you walk, stand straight or lean backward but the symptoms and get better when you sit down or lean forward.

To determine if you have it, we’ll ask questions about your symptoms, do a physical exam and order imaging tests such as an MRI, CT scan or X-rays.

The good news is, you can most likely control mild to moderate symptoms with over-the-counter pain medicines, exercise and physical therapy. You may also require a spinal shot of corticosteroid to reduce inflammation.

Surgery is recommended if symptoms get worse or if they limit your activities. While surgery may relieve leg pain, it is less effective eliminating back pain. 

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