Lumbar Spinal Stenosis | Gleneagles Hospitals

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

The most common area of back pain is in the lower back (lumbar) because this area bears the stress of your weight throughout the day.

Lumbar spinal stenosis is a condition of the narrowing of the spinal canal in the lumbar region (lower back).

As the spinal canal narrows, it can lead to compression of the spinal cord and nerves that run through it, which causes symptoms such as pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the lower back and legs.

Lumbar spinal stenosis is more common in older adults due to degenerative changes in the spine. The causes of lumbar spinal stenosis are often related to the natural aging process and wear and tear on the spine over time.

However, it can also occur in younger people due to certain underlying conditions such as congenital spinal abnormalities or spinal injuries.

Lumbar spinal stenosis symptoms

Symptoms can vary depending on the degree of stenosis and the level of compression on the nerves.

Common symptoms include:

  • Pain, numbness, or tingling sensations in the lower back, buttocks, legs, or feet
  • Weakness in the legs or feet
  • Loss of balance or coordination that leads to difficulty in walking or standing

Symptoms in severe cases include:

  • Bowel or bladder dysfunction, including urinary or faecal incontinence due to disc herniation that presses on the nerves that go to the bowels or bladder.

Lumbar spinal stenosis risk factors

  • Degenerative changes wherebythe spinal canal narrows due to wear and tear over time.
    • Arthritis (degeneration of the joint) causes inflammation and changes in the spine that can lead to stenosis.
    • Bony growths or bone spurs that are formed in response to the wear and tear from osteoarthritis can put pressure on the spinal cord and lead to stenosis.
    • Herniated discs can put pressure on the spinal cord and lead to stenosis.
    • Thickening of ligaments over time can bulge and intrude the spinal canal.
  • Past injuries to the spineand other forms of trauma such as dislocations or fractures that cause damage to the spinal canal can increase the risk of developing lumbar spinal stenosis.
  • Some people may be born with a narrow spinal canal (congenital abnormality), which can increase the risk of developing stenosis later in life.

Lumbar spinal stenosis diagnosis

Your doctor would first question your general health and symptoms before conducting a thorough physical examination.

Diagnosis is made based on your reported symptoms, physical examination, and investigations.

A neurological evaluation will also be done to determine if nerve damage is contributing to your symptoms.

Imaging tests such as X-ray, CT scan, and MRI may also be done to get detailed pictures of the spine, and to confirm the diagnosis of spinal stenosis.

Lumbar spinal stenosis treatment options

Treatment for lumbar spinal stenosis varies depending on the severity of the symptoms. Treatments are limited to relieving symptoms as the narrowing of the spinal canal is irreversible.

Some common treatment options for lumbar spinal stenosis include:

  • Medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Physiotherapy to strengthen the muscles in the back and legs and improve flexibility, which can help alleviate symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis.
  • Corticosteroid injection to relieve pain and inflammation.

Surgery may be necessary in severe cases of lumbar spinal stenosis. Common surgical treatments include:

  • Laminectomy: This surgical option involves the removal of a portion of the vertebrae to create more space in the spinal canal and to relieve pressure on the spinal nerves.
  • Spinal fusion: This surgery may be needed in cases of severe arthritis or a herniated disc that can cause excessive motion between vertebras. Spinal fusion can help to stabilise the spine by permanently connecting two or more vertebrae.

Make an appointment at Gleneagles Hospitals

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis, get in touch with us to find out more about our Orthopaedic Services at your nearest Gleneagles Hospital.

Gleneagles Hospital works with orthopaedic specialists to assist patients through diagnosis and treatment. The caring and multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals are available for consultation and to provide the best care.

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