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Lumbar Stenosis – Narrowing of the Spinal Canal

Spinal stenosis is a condition characterized by the narrowing of the spinal canal. Lumbar stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal in the lumbar portion of the spine, or the lower back. This narrowing essentially chokes the nerves of the spine and can cause nerve or spinal cord damage, which can result in difficulty walking, a decrease in mobility, and lessened sensation in the lower extremities.

Lumbar stenosis is most commonly seen to affect people over 65. Hypertension and scoliosis are considered risk factors.

elderly couple walking on hike

Lumbar Stenosis Symptoms

  • Leg pain, especially while walking
  • Pain is generally lessened when at rest
  • Numbness or weakness in the lower back, buttocks and legs

Lumbar Stenosis Causes

  • Herniated discs or bulging discs
  • Changes to the vertebrae brought on by arthritis
  • Degenerating facet joints
  • Spinal injury or spinal curvature in younger patients

Lumbar Stenosis Treatment Options

Nonsurgical lumbar stenosis treatment options typically include exercise or physical therapy, and activity modification, such as walking with a cane. Other nonsurgical options include epidural injections and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.

If a patient’s quality of life and ability to participate in activity has been seriously impacted by lumbar stenosis, surgery may be recommended. Surgery is also necessary if nerve damage has occurred. The most common surgical treatment is lumbar laminectomy.

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