BPS 17: An Overview of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is a serious medical condition that results due to the narrowing of the spinal nerves. Degeneration of the soft tissues that include the discs, muscles, and vertebrae may occur over time. The changes may ultimately lead to the spinal stenosis.

In this post, we will talk about a specific type of spinal stenosis known as lumbar spinal stenosis. Here you will learn about the symptoms, prognosis, diagnosis, and treatment of the condition.

About Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Stenosis is derived from the Greek word meaning choking. The condition often results due to degenerative bone diseases such as spondylolisthesis and osteoarthritis. Lumbar spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal nerves in the lower back get chocked. This most often leads to severe leg pain among other symptoms.

Individuals with lumbar spinal stenosis often experience pain while walking, which is known as claudication. The pain results in diminished activity levels. Patients generally feel relieved when at rest but the pain resumes when walking.

Symptoms of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Individuals with lumbar spinal stenosis may feel different symptoms. Some of the symptoms include the following.

  • Sciatic nerve pain
  • Claudication i.e. pain in the leg when walking.
  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness or tingling that seems to radiate from the lower back and into the buttocks

Symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis fluctuate with patients feeling mild pain at some periods, and severe pain during another. The symptoms are generally not progressive and do not become worse with time. The duration and severity of the symptoms differ for each patient and determine the specific treatment plan.

Prognosis of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

The symptoms of the lumbar spinal stenosis are often felt during the fifth decade. The condition worsens over time and generally cause intermittent pain. Lumbar spinal stenosis symptoms may become debilitating in some instances.

The condition is normally associated with aging. The small stabilizing joints that are located behind and between the vertebrae known as the facet joints tend to get large with age. This is caused due to the degeneration of the joints that results in compression of the spinal nerve roots in the lower back.

Although rate, the degenerative lumbar stenosis can also develop in younger individuals. It can happen due to an injury or an abnormal curvature of the spine.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Spinal Stenosis

After a patient describes symptoms associated with lumbar spinal pain, a spinal specialist may carry on a diagnosis. For this purpose, a CT scan or an MRI scan can be carried out. In addition, the doctor may carry out a physical examination of the individual. Based on the results of the diagnostic test and physical examination, the doctor may recommend a specific treatment.

A spinal specialist may prescribe medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to get relief from pain. In addition, other nonsurgical procedures such as epidural injection, physical therapy, and activity modification will be recommended. In case the pain does not subside with nonsurgical options, the doctor may recommend lumbar laminectomy or other surgical options to treat the condition.

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Robin BackPainExpert

Physiotherapists & Back Pain Expert

Twenty years ago I was lucky to survive a serious hockey injury. In a sport where big men zoomaround on hard ice and solid wood sticks are slung furiously, a difficult back injury is what every player fears.
It took a long time for me to climb back to a normal life. But when I did, I was determined to spend the rest of his life helping back pain victims everywhere.
As a physiotherapist and back pain expert I have treated thousands of patients over 20 years, built a respected back pain clinic, created the site BackPainSecrets.Com and authored the book “Back Pain Secrets.”
Learn more about me here.