Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

WHAT IS LUMBAR SPINAL STENOSIS?

Lumbar spinal stenosis(LSS) is a condition that becomes more common with age, affecting an estimated 2.4 million Americans by 2021. LSS occurs when there is a narrowing of the space inside the spinal canal, located in the center of the spine, or the bony spaces in the spine where the nerves come out of the spinal cord.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

-Tingling, numbness or pain that radiates from the low back to the lower extremities
-Cramping or aching in the calves that impairs walking
-Neck or low back pain
-Weakness in the arms or legs

WHAT ARE MY TREATMENT OPTIONS?

Exercises:

-Physical therapy and prescribed exercises: An appropriate spinal stenosis exercise program is a key part of any treatment program to help build your strength and endurance, maintain the flexibility and stability of your spine and improve your balance. Make sure to start slowly with flexion-based(forward-bending) exercises to increase the space in the spinal canal and vertebral foramina for more comfort.

-Activity Modification: Patients are usually counseled to avoid activities that cause adverse spinal stenosis symptoms. Examples of activity modification might include walking while bent over and leaning on a walker or shopping cart instead of walking upright, stationary biking and sitting in a recliner instead of on a straight-back chair.

Medications: To control pain associated with spinal stenosis, your doctor may prescribe:

-NSAIDs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs help relieve pain and reduce inflammation
-Muscle Relaxants: Medications such as cyclobenzaprine can calm muscle spasms
-Antidepressants: Tricyclic antidepressants can help ease chronic pain
-Anti-seizure drugs: Some anti-seizure drugs are used to reduce pain caused by damaged nerves
-Opioids: Drugs such as oxycodone and hydrocodone contain substances related to codeine and can be habit-forming

Epidural Injections: Injections directly into the area around the spinal cord may provide a great deal of temporary relief by reducing inflammation and acute pain that radiates into the arms or legs.

Alternative Treatment: Options include chiropractic treatment and acupuncture.

Surgical Treatment: Surgery may be indicated for those who do not improve with non-surgical treatments or if there is severe or progressive weakness or loss of bladder function. The main goal of surgery is to remove the structures that are compressing the nerves in the spinal canal or vertebral foramen.

Patients with LSS should talk to their doctor about the benefits and risks of surgery compared with nonsurgical treatments for their condition. Communication with your health provider is key to determining the best treatment method for you.

For More Information

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