Spinal Stenosis (Lumbar)
In lumbar stenosis, the spinal nerve roots in the lower back become compressed and can cause tingling, weakness, or numbness that radiates from the low back into the buttocks and legs.
The spinal canal is the open area in the bones (vertebrae) that make up the spinal column. These spaces provide pathways for the nerve roots that travel from the spine to other parts of the body, allowing us to feel, move, and control many body functions like bowel and bladder. In a spine with stenosis, one or more of these openings are narrowed. The spinal nerves can become compressed against the vertebral bone. This can interfere with nerve function and can cause pain in the spine or in other parts of the body.
The most common cause of spinal stenosis is aging. If you are over age 50, you have a risk of spinal stenosis. Women are at more risk than men. Other causes can include:
- Excess growth of bone around the spinal nerves from osteoarthritis
- Dislocation/Fractures of the vertebral bone
- Herniated discs that press against the spinal nerves
- Spine defects present at birth
Symptoms of spinal stenosis can vary depending on the location and severity of the problem. The condition can cause pain, weakness, numbness and tingling in the arms and legs, and can be crippling if the spinal cord is damaged. Spinal stenosis in the lower back commonly causes sciatica, a sensation of burning pain that can travel through the buttocks and down the legs. Spinal stenosis can also cause problems with control of the bladder and bowels.
Treatment options for spinal stenosis may include anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants and medications to relieve pain. Steroid injections may be beneficial. A physician may also recommend physical therapy to help maintain and strengthen your muscles, especially in your arms and legs.
If these methods are not effective, surgery may be needed to eliminate pressure on the nerves. Decompression laminectomy performed by a neurosurgeon can remove the buildup of bone in the spinal canal. A foraminotomy can be performed to widen the part of the spine where the nerves exit. And in the most severe cases, spinal fusion can help relieve pressure permanently.
If you think you may be suffering with spinal stenosis, seek expert advice from a specialist at The NeuroMedical Center. Request a consultation today.