An aching back is no fun. Lumbar Spinal Stenosis may be the cause of your pain, if it’s in your lower back. Over time, our spines naturally change. Life takes its toll and the spinal canal can narrow. This leads to pain referred to as spinal stenosis.
What is Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?
Over time the soft tissue and bone in your spine can harden or become overgrown. This leads to a narrowing in the space around the spinal cord. Due to this narrowing, pressure is put on the cord and nerve roots. In the lower back, this may result in pain or numbness. You may also experience leg weakness. By age 50, approximately 95% of people will have some deterioration of the spine. Most cases of spinal stenosis are seen in people over age 60. Women are more likely to have problematic symptoms that require treatment. On the other hand, congenital spinal stenosis, due to back problems at birth, is more likely to affect men and onset occurs as early as age 30.
Arthritis and Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
Arthritis often leads to lumbar spinal stenosis. When joints degenerate, the disks in your spine lose water content. This leads to dry and weak disks that are likely to settle or collapse leading to diminished disk space height.
- Back pain (may not be severe if arthritis is not present)
- Nerve pain that feels like burning in buttocks or legs (sciatica)
- Tingling or numb buttocks or leg
- Weakness in the legs
- Foot drop: when it feels as though your foot is slapping the ground when walking
- Pain that is strong when standing or walking and can be reduced when sitting and leaning forward
If you have any symptoms, your doctor will take a medical history and examine your back to pinpoint areas of pain. A diagnosis may also require an X-ray to look for loss of disk height or bone spurs. An MRI can give images of soft tissue. You may also need a CT scan to get a cross section image of the spine.
- Physical therapy to manage symptoms
- Lumbar traction (not proven effective for many)
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Steroid injections
Surgery: for patients with diminished quality of life due to severe symptoms.
- Laminectomy: removal of bone, bone spurs, or ligaments to create more space in the spinal area
- Spinal fusion: decompresses and stabilizes the spine by fusing vertebrae together
Regional Medical Center will hold a special presentation on Lumbar Spinal Stenosis on Thursday, April 19, 2012 from 3 – pm. This free event will be held at the Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point Conference Center located at 14000 Fivay Road, Hudson, FL 34667. Space is limited so make reservations by calling 727-869-5498 or 1-888-663-7746. Come for the information and light refreshments. We hope to see you there.