Lumbar Spinal Stenosis – Topic Generalization
In this article, we mainly talk about spinal stenosis of the lower back, also referred to as the lumbar area. If you want to know about spinal stenosis of the neck, please consult the topic of Cervical Spinal Stenosis.
Definition of lumbar spinal stenosis
Lumbar spinal stenosis is a medical condition in which the spinal canal in the lower back, narrows and compresses the spinal cord and nerves. This narrowing occurs when the growth of bone or tissue or both make the orifices in the spinal bones smaller than before. As a result of the narrowing, the branch nerves coming from the spinal cord are oppressed and stimulated. At the same time, the spinal cord itself is also oppressed and stimulated. Usually, this may result in pain, numbness, or weakness, most often in the legs, feet, and buttocks.
Causes of lumbar spinal stenosis
Lumbar spinal stenosis often results from the common occurrence of changes in the shape and size of the spinal canal that occurs with aging. For example:
The thickening of connective tissues called ligaments.
The growth of bony spurs that compress the spinal cord caused by joint disease called osteoarthritis.
The returning of Discs between the bones into the spinal canal as a result of push.
Generally speaking, the narrowing in the spiral canal is usually the result of these conditions.
Symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis
The pressure on the spinal cord or nerves will leads to the occurrence of many symptoms:
Numbness, weakness, cramping, or pain in the legs, feet, or buttocks. These symptoms deteriorate when you walk, stand straight, or lean backward. The pain relieves when you sit down or lean forward.
Stiffness in the legs and thighs.
Low back pain.
Worse still, loss of bladder and bowel control.
The severity of symptoms may vary from time to time. Sometimes it becomes worse, sometimes it gets lessened. Only a few people will be severely disabled. As a matter of fact, many people have no symptoms at all.
It is not easy for us to diagnose spinal stenosis for its symptoms may occur as a result of other conditions. Most people who haven’t had any back problem or any injury before are still at the risk of stenosis. Often, unusual leg symptoms indicate that one has developed spinal stenosis.
If simple treatments, such as postural changes or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, is not effective enough to improve the patients’ condition, special imaging studies need to be carried on for the purpose of finding out the root cause of the problem. An MRI (magnetic resonance image) or CAT (computed tomography) scan may be applied. A myelogram (an X-ray taken after a dye is injected into the spine) may be taken. Consequently, details about the bones may be obtained from the imaging studies and they may be of great value to diagnosis.
Treatment for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
The following are several ways that can be used to treat spinal stenosis:
Changing posture: Spinal stenosis suffers may find that symptoms can be lessened by walking with a stooped posture. Lying with the knees drawn up to the chest also can make the patients relieved. By this way, the space which can be used by the nerves is extended, which will enable stenosis suffers to walk for a longer time.
Medications: sometimes, inflammatory swelling will put the nerves under pressure. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen may provide relief of symptoms.
Rest: rest as well as a subsequent resumption of activity will be of great help to you. Aerobic activity such as bicycling is a recommendatory activity.
Surgery for spinal stenosis: If above-mentioned therapies can not provide relief of pain, it is suggested that surgery be used to ease the pressure on affected nerves.