Treatment Options for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis is a condition usually brought about by degenerative changes in the spine. This results in a narrowing of the opening, or foramen of the spine, from which the nerve exits. Pinching and squeezing the nerve, this condition causes the nerves to become inflamed, usually resulting in symptoms including severe pain, a possible loss of power in the legs, pain that seems to radiate upwards along the spine, pain that leads down into the buttock region, and/or loss of normal bladder and bowel function, in rare cases.

While this condition may affect younger people, due to developmental difficulties, congenital birth defects, herniations of the disc, tumors, et cetera, the majority of those who are diagnosed with Lumbar Spinal Stenosis have contracted it as a result of degenerative conditions, and are usually aged 60 years or older. It is estimated that more than 400,000 Americans, mostly elderly, may be suffering from the symptoms of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis. This number may be even higher, considering that the condition may or may not produce any kind of symptoms, depending on the severity of the irritation.

A diagnosis for this condition needs to be made by a neurosurgeon, who will base his decision on the patient’s history, what symptoms they exhibit, a physical examination, and the results of various tests that are run, including X-rays, Computer Topography (CAT) scan, a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or a Myleogram. Should the patient be diagnosed with Lumbar Spinal Stenosis, they may be told that there is little to no non-surgical treatment that can be used to help this condition; walking with the aid of a walker or leaning on a shopping cart may offer a temporary fix, as can spinal manipulation or epidural injections of cortizone into the back, but none of the fixes are long-term. Anti-inflammatory and analgesics may help reduce pain and swelling, physical therapy may help protect you from further energy, but again, the relief is only short-lived.

There are several different surgical procedures that can be taken into consideration, the various choices being influenced by the severity of injury and irritation to the nerves. The most common of these is a decompressive laminectomy, where the roof of the vertebra, or laminae, is removed, creating more space for the nerves. If other conditions are present, risking further injury to the nerves or spine, a spinal fusion may be performed, which fuses two vertebra together and thereby stabilizes them. In other cases, procedures can include anything from removal of the diseased or damaged disc, to grafts, or performing different operations that will help ease whatever is irritating the nerve.

As with any kind of surgery, the options should be given careful consideration, weighing the pros versus the cons. While many people report that the surgery does help with a great deal of pain, there is no sure way of guaranteeing whether or not the procedure will work with you.

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