Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of one or more areas in the spinal canal. This narrowing can put pressure on your spinal cord and/or on the nerves that branch out from the spinal cord. The stenosis is usually due to a combination of factors that included a bulging or disk herniation, arthritic bony changes, and/or hypertrophy (swelling) of spinal ligaments.
Causes & Symptoms of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
If you’re not familiar with lumbar spinal stenosis, allow us to bring you up to speed: this condition is often the result of aging and “wear and tear” on the spine from everyday activities. Lumbar spinal stenosis, in short, is a narrowing of the spinal canal that typically causes pain, numbness, tingling and/or weakness in the back and legs. Furthermore, this condition is usually more noticeable when you walk and pain symptoms can lessen when you sit or bend forward. If you suffer from the following symptoms, consider getting checked out for lumbar spinal stenosis:
- a dull or aching pain spreading to your groin, buttocks or legs
- a numbness or “pins and needles” in your legs, calves, or buttocks
- a decreased endurance for physical activities
- loss of balance
- sciatic pain
Our pain specialists can administer a physical examination and use radiology tests, like MRIs or x-rays, to diagnose LSS and rule out other conditions that have similar symptoms.
Treatment Options for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
Typically, a Desert Pain Specialists physician will recommend conservative, non-surgical treatments to minimize pain before performing minimally invasive procedures. These treatments usually include:
- Epidural steroid injections to decrease swelling and pain
- Rest and reduced activity
- Physical therapy and exercise
- Prescription pain medications
If these non-surgical treatment options do not provide adequate pain relief, you may require aggressive treatment, such as spinal surgery. Historically, the surgical options for lumbar spinal stenosis were as follows:
- Direct decompression surgery to remove the bone and other tissue around the nerves causing pain. This surgery helps relieve pressure on your spinal cord and nerves.
- Decompression surgery with spinal fusion is performed to remove bone and tissue. Then a bone graft is placed between the bones (usually vertebrae) in the area of the decompression surgery. The bone graft helps new bone grow between the two bones to help them “fuse” together. This should stop motion in that portion of the spine. Screws and rods may be used to hold the bones in place.