Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Lumbar spine is the lower part of the spine which consists of five vertebras. Nerves that is from the spinal cord goes through the spinal canal and goes out through small openings in the sides of the vertebral which is called foramen. Lumbar spinal Stenosis results when the spinal canal becomes narrowed or if it is the vertebral foramen that is narrowed then it leads to foraminal Stenosis, if narrowing is extensive then it can lead to nerve compression which will then cause pain.

Causes of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Arthritis often occurs in the back as a result of normal aging process that is why the most common cause of spine Stenosis in the lower back is degenerative arthritis. This often results to overgrowth of the ligaments structures, lessens the normal height of the spinal disc, growth of bone spurs and loss of cartilage between the bones at the joints. Any one of these can cause the nerves to be compress thus results to lumbar spinal Stenosis. Other causes for lumbar spinal Stenosis may include different bone problems, infection and tumor. These are less common than the degenerative arthritis.

Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis in the Lower Back

Symptoms of spinal Stenosis in the lower back includes numbness, loss of sensation in the legs, weakness and lower back pain. Usually the patient’s symptoms lessen when leaning forward or sitting. Most of the time pain spreads down the leg with continued walking and usually lessens when you rest. Bending backwards and standing usually makes the symptoms worst. It is best then for patients to just lean forward or sit and refrain from walking long distance.

Unfortunately the symptoms can get worst through time since degenerative arthritis progresses through time. If this is left untreated then the compression of nerves can result to loss of function in the legs and can even result to loss of bladder or bowel control as well as sexual function.

Diagnosis of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Generally physician often starts with a thorough physical examination and medical history of the patient. Patient will be ask about its symptoms and for how long it has been going on and if the patient have undertaken any treatment before and of course what other conditions the patient have. These questions can help the physician determine lumbar Stenosis from other conditions.

After the thorough questioning and getting all its medical history then the doctor starts with its physical examination and after the physical examination doctors may request for imaging studies like plain x-rays of the back as well as in the hips too and if needed an MRI scan. In some instances a nerve test may be requested like the electromyogram. This test can identify the specific nerve that is involved.

Treatment for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Treatment of Spinal Stenosis of the lower back often starts with non-surgical form of treatment which often includes medications to lessen pain and inflammation. Physical therapy can also help. A combination of these two treatments can do a lot of good to the patient.

If non-surgical treatment failed then surgery may be necessary especially if the condition has progress and symptoms like loss of bladder or bowel function is present as well as general weakness. Talk to your doctor for the various surgery procedures available for lumbar spinal Stenosis. The main purpose of the surgery is to eliminate any structures that are compressing the nerves in the spinal canal. This is what they call as a lumbar decompression surgery which can include kind of surgical procedure like Foraminotomy, laminotomy, laminectomy and spinal fusion.

Surgery for this condition is highly successful in relieving the leg symptoms although it really depends on the severity of the nerve compression and for how long it has been compress. Even with surgery, there is still the possibility of permanent damage in the nerve. Success of surgery really differs from patient to patient and depends on the severity of the condition.

However it is good to know that studies have been continually conducted in this subject. In fact a study is conducted for surgery versus non-surgical treatment and it came out that patients with indicative spinal Stenosis who are treated surgically has maintain greater improvement in function and pain through four years than those who are treated non-surgically (Spine 2010). This only proves that surgery can be a good option in certain spinal condition.