Lumbar stenosis develops when either the spinal canal or nerve passageways (foramen) become narrow. It is a common cause of low back pain. If the spinal canal is narrowed, the disorder is also termed lumbar central stenosis. If the foramen is narrowed, it is called lumbar foraminal stenosis. When either condition develops, the spinal cord and/or nerves are compressed. Sometimes, patients have both types of lumbar stenosis.
Some patients are born with this narrowing (congenital). However, most cases of lumbar stenosis develop in patients over age 50 and results from aging and wear and tear on the spine. Other common causes include osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, or bone spurs (osteophytes).
The symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis include:
Video: Spinal Stenosis
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Lumbar spinal stenosis is often diagnosed by a spine specialist.
As part of physical therapy, patients with lumbar stenosis will be educated in proper posture and body mechanics.
If non-surgical therapies are not successful, surgery may be recommended.
There are different surgical techniques to treat lumbar stenosis. The goal of surgery is to decompress -- take pressure off the spinal cord and nerve roots. Decompression involves removing or trimming whatever is causing compression. The surgeon tells you about your surgical treatment options, and benefits and risks. Surgery may include:
There are other types of surgical procedures to treat lumbar spinal stenosis.
Most patients begin to get out of bed the same day surgery is performed. Activity is gradually increased and most patients are discharged home within a few days after their procedure, depending on the type of the surgery. Post-operative pain should be expected. Your doctor provides pain medication to help keep you comfortable.
At home, you need to rest. You receive instructions about how to safely and gradually increase activity. Pain and discomfort should begin to reduce within a week or two after surgery.
If back and leg pain is progressive and/or affecting your mobility, speak with a spine specialist about safe and effective treatment of lumbar spinal stenosis.
Patient Guides to Spine Conditions