Lumbar spinal stenosis

Lumbar spinal stenosis is a gradual narrowing of the space where nerves pass through the spine, and may be a result of aging and wear and tear on the spine from everyday activities or may be due to long-standing trauma.

Information you need

Causes and symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis

Lumbar spinal stenosis is a condition defined as the narrowing of the bone canals (vertebral foramen or intervertebral foramen) where the spinal cord passes through the spine. When this narrowing occurs, the spinal cord or nerves respectively, can be compressed which may cause pain and/or nerve damage.

Decreased endurance during physical exercise and activities

Aching, dull back pain radiating (spreading) to your legs

Weakness and/or loss of balance

Symptoms improve when you sit, lean forward, lie on your back, or sit with your feet raised

Numbness or a “prickly” feeling in your legs, calves, or buttocks

Neurogenic Claudication

Non-Surgical Treatments

If lumbar spinal stenosis is established as a diagnosis, your physician may recommend one or more of the following treatments:

  • Physical therapy and strengthening exercises
  • Rest and a restriction of physical activity
  • Injections (e.g., corticosteroids) to help reduce the pain and swelling
  • Medications and analgesics to reduce pain and swelling, typical medications may include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Surgical Procedures

If symptoms do not improve with other methods, your physician may suggest spinal surgery. Surgical solutions for advanced degenerative disc disease with resultant spinal stenosis may include:

  • Decompression surgery, such as laminectomy
  • Decompression with fusion surgery
  • Anterior lumbar interbody fusions (ALIF)
  • Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF)
  • Maximum access surgery (MAS®) PLIF
  • Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF)
  • eXtreme lateral interbody fusion (XLIF®)

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