Lumbar stenosis is a condition that causes lower back pain, as well as pain in the legs. It typically affects older Americans and occurs when the spinal canal in the lower back, otherwise known as the lumbar spine, begins to narrow. As time progresses and the narrowing continues, extreme pressure will be placed on the nerves and spinal cord, causing pain and discomfort.
What Is the Spinal Canal?
The spinal canal is the areaof your spine that is most affected by lumbar stenosis. The lumbar spine is made up of five vertebrae between the ribcage and pelvis that are separated by intervertebral discs. These discs act as cushions to diffuse uncomfortable pressure and keep vertebrae separated. Each vertebra has vertebral arches that create space for the spinal cord. That space makes up the spinal canal.
Causes of Lumbar Stenosis
The natural aging process and repetitive stress can cause the spinal canal to narrow, although the process can be sped up with conditions like lumbar stenosis. When this happens and the spinal cord becomes compressed, it causes lower back pain and pain in the legs and/or buttocks. Another cause of lumbar stenosis is spinal disc shrinkage, which is when a spinal disc begins breaking down, impeding its ability to separate the vertebrae. Additionally, when spinal cord ligaments expand, lumbar stenosis can occur.
Symptoms of Lumbar Stenosis
Patients suffering from lumbar stenosis may experience a variety of symptoms, including the following:
• Lower back pain
• Pain in the legs, buttocks, and/or feet
• Tingling or numbness in one or both feet or legs
• Shooting pain in the legs, especially while walking
• Weakness in the legs or feet
• Limited range of motion
• Difficulty walking
• Problems controlling bladder or bowel movements
• Neck and shoulder pain
• Shooting pain in the arms and/or hands
Diagnosing Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
When you visit Central NJ Spine for a consultation, you will undergo an examination to determine the cause of your pain and discomfort. Our doctors will also discuss your medical history and may order additional tests, such as an MRI or X-rays. After examining the results, you’ll receive a diagnosis and a treatment option that’s right for you.
Treating Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
When treating spinal stenosis, our doctors always start with conservative treatment options that may include controlling pain with medication, modifying activity levels, physiotherapy, or epidural steroid injections. In severe cases, lumbar laminectomy, a surgical option, may be recommended.
Do you suffer from symptoms associated with spinal stenosis? Schedule a consultation with one of our doctors today. Call our office at 201-371-6004.