Lumbar Spinal Stenosis is a type of lower back and leg pain that occurs when the space around the spinal cord has been narrowed.
This causes pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots which causes pain, numbness or weakness in the legsl. Lumbar spinal stenosis usually occurs in adults over 60 years old. If you're suffering from lumbar spinal stenosis you might feel:
- burning pains in the back
- numbness or tingling in the buttocks or legs (sciatica)
- weakness in the calve muscles
- spinal claudication (pain in the calves)
The pain often lessens when the sufferer leans more forward.
How do you know if you have lumbar spinal stenosis
The doctor will conduct a physical examination and ask about your medical history. If they suspect you have spinal stenosis they will book you in for an MRI or magnetic resonance imaging test. Only an MRI can create the images of the soft tissues like the muscles, discs, spinal cords and nerves around the spine. But an X-Ray may also be used too - Xrays of a patient leaning forwards or backwards can identify cases associated with spondyloisthesis in which a vertebra moves forward over the one below. If, for whatever reason, an MRI is unsuitable, then a CT or Computed tomography myelogram can be taken.
NON-SURGICAL OPTIONS FOR SPINAL STENOSIS
- Activity and behaviour modification
- Physical therapy
- Alternative medicine such as acupuncture
- Chiropractice manipulation
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Epidural steriod injections
SURGERY FOR LUMBAR SPINAL STENOSIS
Surgery is only used for patients for whom the non-surgical options do not work and whose quality of life has been severely impaired. The good news is that there are new surgical procedures to help fix your spine problems.
Lumbar Laminectomy Surgery (Open Decompression)
A lumbar laminectomy is designed to remove a small portion of the bone that goes over the nerve root and/or removing disc material from under the nerve root. This gives the nerve root more space and promotes a better healing environment
Interspinous process distration devices (IPDD)
This involves inserting a spacer between the spinous processes which are the parts of a vertebra to which the muscles and ligaments are attached. This keeps the vertebrae apart and leaves space for the nerves. This is often considered a safer alternative to open laminectomy.
A laminectomy is considered a relatively low-risk surgical option and it is shown to help patients in about 80% of cases.