Overview of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
As we age our spine may experience degeneration of the vertebrae, discs, muscles and ligaments that comprise the spinal column. This wear and tear of the spine can result in the narrowing of the spinal canal, this is called spinal stenosis. The narrowing of the spinal canal causes pain from the compression of nerves traveling through the lower back to the legs. Up to 95% of people aged 50 and over experience degenerative changes to the spine due to aging. In many cases the pain from lumbar spinal stenosis is relieved when sitting but made worse when standing or walking.
The narrowing of the spinal column usually occurs slowly, over many years. Spinal discs become more spongy with age resulting in loss of disk height. The loss of disk height results in a bulging of the disk into the spinal canal resulting in stenosis. Common symptoms are due to inflammation, compression of the nerves, or both.
Symptoms of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
The most common symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis are:
- Low back pain
- Leg pain (sciatica)
- Numbness in the legs
- Impaired mobility
- Loss of control of bowels
How to Diagnose
To diagnose lumbar spinal stenosis doctors will use one or more of the following:
- CT or CAT Scan
Image of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
There are surgical and non-surgical treatment options for lumbar spinal stenosis. Common non-surgical treatments include activity modification, physical therapy, exercise, oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, opioid pain medicine and/or epidural injections. There are a number of surgical treatment options depending on your neurosurgeon.
Prior to pursuing surgical options, it’s important to meet with pain management specialists such as Dr. Brandon Claflin and Dr. Jeff Halsell at Oklahoma Interventional Spine & Pain. Pain management specialists will work with the patient to reduce the pain associated with lumbar spinal stenosis. Since the pain associated with spinal stenosis is caused by inflammation, the pain management doctor will work with the patient to manage the inflammation which will result in a reduction of pain and avoidance of surgery.
If you are experiencing symptoms associated with lumbar spinal stenosis, call the pain management doctors (Dr. Halsell and Dr. Claflin) at Oklahoma Interventional Spine & Pain by calling 918-728-8020.