Lumbar spinal stenosis — narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back
Spinal stenosis, or narrowing of the spinal column, most commonly occurs in the lumbar (lower) region of the spine. As the spinal canal narrows, spinal nerves can become compressed. This nerve compression usually results in local pain in the back and radiating pain in the buttocks, legs and feet.
If you have been diagnosed with lumbar spinal stenosis, you understand the limitations lower back pain places on your life. There are several treatment options, including at-home exercises and stretches, to try to ease the pain caused by spinal stenosis. Always consult your doctor before beginning a treatment routine for spinal stenosis or any spine condition. Notify your doctor if your pain or discomfort changes during your treatment session.
Why spinal stenosis is commonly found in the lumbar region of the spine
The lumbar spine is the most common location for spinal stenosis. This is because this area undergoes the most strain over the years. The spine is divided into three main sections: cervical (upper), thoracic (middle) and lumbar (lower). The lumbar spine is responsible for supporting the majority of the body’s weight and mass. With time and age-related changes, the components of the lumbar spine begin to gradually degenerate. The vertebrae might become misaligned or the discs can become displaced, all creating less space between the spinal canal and the spinal cord.
Additionally, the deterioration of the integrity of the lumbar spine could lead to bone spurs, which are small growths on the vertebrae or joints of the spine. Bone spurs can compress the nerve roots in the spinal cord and narrow the spinal canal. While there is no way to completely prevent lumbar spinal stenosis, taking steps like practicing a healthy diet and exercise plan can help limit the pressure placed on this area.
Lumbar spinal stenosis symptoms and treatment
While the cause of your lumbar spinal stenosis may vary the symptoms slightly, the main symptoms associated with spinal stenosis are as follows:
- Lower back pain
- Muscle weakness
- Radiating pain in the buttocks, legs and feet, often on one side of the body
- A tingling feeling or loss of sensation in the legs
These symptoms can often be managed with lifestyle changes, gentle stretching and strength-building exercises. Many patients with lumbar spinal stenosis feel relief from forward-bending stretches that round or arch the lower back and expand the openings within the spinal column. Other conservative spinal stenosis treatments include anti-inflammatory or pain medication, physical therapy and corticosteroid injections.
Nonsurgical treatments are often effective in treating the symptoms of spinal stenosis. However, if you do not find lasting pain relief from conservative treatments, you may consider surgical options. At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive stabilization and decompression surgeries to treat lumbar spinal stenosis, including the following procedures:
If you’ve tried conservative treatments but are still experiencing pain and other debilitating spinal stenosis symptoms, contact Laser Spine Institute. We’re happy to help you receive a free MRI review* and discuss whether you may be a candidate for our minimally invasive outpatient treatment options.