As we age, many of us begin to notice pain in the lower back and wonder what is causing the pain and what can be done about it. Our spinal cord is made up of nerves that run through a tunnel formed by the vertebrae and this tunnel is called the spinal canal. Lumbar spine stenosis is a condition that happens when the spinal canal narrows, through compression, or a herniated or bulging disc, in the lower part of your back and causes pressure on your spinal cord and nerves. The most common cause of lumbar spine stenosis is osteoarthritis, which is the gradual wear and tear on the joints as we age.
Most people who develop symptoms of lumbar spine stenosis are age 50 or older. Some of the symptoms include numbness, tingling or weakness in the legs, back pain, loss of sensation in the feet, burning pain down the legs, and a feeling of heaviness in the legs that gets worse after standing or walking for a period of time. Your doctor will do X-rays and other imaging tests, including a CT scan or MRI, in order to get a more detailed look at the spinal canal and nerves. Once you have been diagnosed, there are several different treatment options available.
- Physical Therapy. Physical therapy gently stretches the joints and muscles in the spine to provide relief and often includes exercises to strengthen your back, stomach, and leg muscles.
- Medicines. Pain-relieving medications may be prescribed, including acetaminophen, aspirin, nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs, and opiates.
- Corticosteroid Injections. This injection into the space surrounding the nerve roots or facet joints can relieve pain for weeks to months by reducing inflammation.
- Surgery. Surgery is often used as a last resort with the goal being to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and nerves by restoring the alignment of the spine. Oftentimes, this requires removal of the diseased areas that are causing the misalignment and pressure. Laminectomy involves removing the lamina (roof) of one or more vertebrae to create more room for the nerves. Bone spurs will also need to be removed. Depending on the condition of the spine, some vertebrae may also need to be fused together.
If you are experiencing back pain and think you may be showing symptoms related to lumbar spine stenosis, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at Advanced Chiropractic Center today!