Lumbar spinal narrowing
Lumbar spinal narrowing, also known as spinal stenosis in the lumbar region of the spine, is a type of degenerative spine condition that commonly occurs in the lower back. Like most degenerative diseases, lumbar spinal stenosis often develops later in life as a result of years of wear and tear of the spine. While many people develop some degree of lumbar spinal stenosis as they age, most mild forms of this condition are never diagnosed because they do not present symptoms. However, as the condition progresses, the spinal canal may continue to narrow until a nerve root in the spinal canal is impacted, causing chronic pain.
If you are experiencing chronic, debilitating pain in your lower back that worsens when you move or bend, you should consult your physician to determine the cause of your pain. If you are diagnosed with lumbar spinal stenosis, there are several non-surgical and surgical treatments available to you to help reduce your symptoms and treat your condition.
The lumbar spine
Most degenerative spine conditions occur in the lumbar spine because the lower portion of the spine is responsible for supporting and stabilizing the weight of the body. Over time, after years of repetitive motions and weight gain, the vertebrae of the lumbar spine begin to compress and squeeze the disc found in between each set of vertebrae. As the compression continues, the discs may begin to deteriorate, causing the development of other spine conditions, such as bone spurs, arthritis of the spine or a herniated disc. All of these conditions lead to the protrusion of the spine into the spinal canal, which causes the spinal canal to narrow in that specific section and a nerve root to be impacted.
Symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis often include:
- Pain in the lower back
- Radiating pain to the buttock, leg and sometimes foot
- Numbness or tingling in foot
- In very severe cases, loss of bladder or bowel control — seek medical help immediately
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to consult your physician about a treatment plan to help alleviate your pain and symptoms.
Mild cases of spinal stenosis in the lumbar spine often respond well to conservative methods of treatment, such as physical therapy and stretches. The purpose of most conservative treatments is to realign the components of your spine to decompress the impacted nerve and then strengthen the muscles surrounding your spine to hold everything in alignment and take pressure off of the spine. However, some forms of conservative treatment are meant solely to relieve pain.
The most common forms of conservative therapy include:
- Physical therapy
- Chiropractic care
- Hold and cold therapy
- Pain medication
- Epidural injections
- Exercise and stretches
In the event that conservative therapy does not effectively treat your pain, you may be recommended to undergo surgery.
At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive surgery that is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery^. Our minimally invasive decompression surgery and minimally invasive stabilization surgery are both used to treat spinal stenosis. The type of surgery used depends on the severity of the condition.
For example, more mild forms of spinal stenosis may benefit from a minimally invasive decompression surgery. During this procedure, the surgeon will make a small, 1-inch incision in the lower back to access the spine. Through this incision, a portion of the compressed disc or vertebrae will be removed and the nerve root will be released.
A minimally invasive stabilization surgery also only requires a small incision. Instead of removing a portion of the disc or vertebrae, a stabilization surgery removes the entire disc or vertebrae. This type of surgery is commonly used for severe cases of spinal stenosis. Once the disc or vertebrae is removed, the surgeon will insert an implant into the now-empty space in the spine to offer immediate stabilization and help prevent future narrowing.
The minimally invasive nature of our procedures allows us to perform these surgeries as outpatient procedures. Many of our patients are able to stand and walk within hours after surgery. Our commitment to medical excellence and patient-centered care is what has earned Laser Spine Institute a patient satisfaction score of 96 and patient recommendation score of 97 out of 100.^
For more information about the minimally invasive procedures we offer to treat lumbar spinal stenosis, please contact our Care Team. We are here to guide you through your journey to wellness.